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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Research Project #436964

Research Project: Development of New Value-Added Processes and Products from Advancing Oilseed Crops

Location: Bio-oils Research

2022 Annual Report

Objective 1: Develop an analysis of new crop germplasm and agronomic traits of oilseed crops such as camelina and industrial hemp. • Sub-objective 1.1. Identify and develop off-season crops. • Sub-objective 1.2. Identify and develop non-traditional oilseed crops. Objective 2: Enable processes for the commercial production of oils, meal, gums, waxes, and value-added products from advancing oilseed crops such as meadowfoam, new pennycress varieties, camelina, lesquerella, osage orange, and industrial hemp. • Sub-objective 2.1. Develop methods for the dry fractionation of mucilage and enriched protein meal from brassica seeds (camelina and lesquerella). • Sub-objective 2.2. Develop methods for the recovery of waxes and phospholipids from meadowfoam oil. • Sub-objective 2.3. Develop an integrated process to produce high-quality oil, enriched protein meal, and purified protein from industrial hemp seeds. • Sub-objective 2.4. Develop a sustainable isolation and purification protocol for isoflavones and the other fruit components of osage orange. Objective 3: Enable commercial processes by converting oils and gums from oilseed crops into marketable new value-added bio-based products. • Sub-objective 3.1. Develop new hydroxy oils and fatty acids. • Sub-objective 3.2. Develop new biobased estolide lubricants or additives. • Sub-objective 3.3. Develop niche products for industrial oils.

New off-season and oilseed crop development is critical to the future sustainability of the United States (U.S.) agriculture by reducing the farmer’s dependence on government subsidies for a select few commodity crops such as corn and soybeans, and by supplementing our need for energy without sacrificing food production. Several new crops (camelina, industrial hemp, meadowfoam, lesquerella, and osage orange) will be further developed for the U.S. by developing cost-effective industrial products and processes from these agricultural feedstocks. A collaborative effort in the development of camelina and industrial hemp will occur: 1) Both off-season and new crop germplasm development will be supported through developing analytical methods to rapidly analyze tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), oil, and seed quality; 2) Development of chemical and physical processes that enable the commercial production of oils, waxes, meal, gums, proteins, and isoflavones in these oilseed crops; 3) Development of novel industrial chemicals and processes through organic synthesis based on new crop raw materials derived above; and 4) Demonstrate economic viability through the production of pilot-scale quantities of new crop raw materials and products. Products to be developed include biodegradable lubricants, biobased lubricant additives, cosmetics, and common feedstocks - hydroxy acids. Overall, this research will lead to the development and expansion of off-season and new oilseed crops, which will help diversify the U.S. farm as well as expand the U.S. arsenal of industrial biofriendly chemicals and processes.

Progress Report
Objective 1. Working with collaborators, ARS researchers were able to identify a number of commercial and experimental industrial hemp varieties with both high oil and low (<0.3%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. The first year of field trials included 11 commercial and experimental industrial hemp grain varieties. Materials (flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds) from the industrial hemp plants were analyzed for THC content which were lower than the 0.3% THC level. All industrial hemp grain/seeds harvested from low THC industrial hemp varieties had TLC levels well below any detection limits. Additionally, past efforts by ARS researchers in Peoria, Illinois, have led to the development of pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) as an off-season rotation crop. Pennycress oil has properties suitable for the development of biofuels – such as an aviation jet fuel drop-in replacement. Further development of yellow-seeded pennycress lines has continued by a St. Louis, Missouri, based company during the 2021-2022 season. ARS scientists have continued to provide consultative oversight for processing pennycress seeds into oil/meal/protein. ARS has also led the development of other potential industrial products from the pennycress oil. Protein isolates from new yellow pennycress seed lines were obtained from hexane- and ethanol-defatted meal and compared with the wild-type pennycress protein isolates obtained previously. The new protein isolates were used by the St. Louis, Missouri-based collaborator with prospective ingredient companies for pennycress food formulation applications. Objective 2. Industrial hemp, a new target in this research cycle, will be investigated as a potential industrial crop for the United States by developing cost-effective industrial products and processes from all parts of the crop. The first year of field trials included 11 commercial and experimental industrial dual purpose (fiber and grain) and hemp grain varieties. The commercial varieties were developed in Canada and Europe but have performed well in the Northern regions in the United States. The experimental lines were developed in the United States and were recent releases from industry. Plant establishment was monitored and grain yields from two plant density trials were obtained. Weights (true densities) and proximate composition (moisture, oil, crude protein, ash, and total carbohydrates) of the grains were analyzed. The fatty acid profile of the oil was also determined. In addition, defatted hemp grain meal was produced by solvent extraction of cold-pressed grains. Work on protein enrichment from the defatted meal is ongoing. Additional traditional crops included new non-genetically modified organism (GMO) varieties of soybean seeds which were processed in our one-of-a-kind, one stop seed processing, oil processing, and oil modification pilot plant. The pilot plant gives us the ability to process numerous types of seeds from various sources. The processed oil from the new variety of soybean was evaluated in frozen dessert formulations in conjunction with collaborators. Objective 3. Estolides, which were developed and patented by ARS researchers in Peoria, Illinois, are a superior vegetable oil-based lubricant. Estolides have been commercialized as a biobased engine oil. Estolides have physical properties that make them excellent lubricants, such as cold temperature tolerance and outstanding oxidative stability properties with limited additive packages. These performances exceeded other commercially available bio-based oils. Additionally, a new series of natural fatty acid derivatives were recently developed to address the problems in the cattle industry associated with biting flies which costs the U.S. cattle industry over $2.4 billion annually. These recently discovered materials have improved emulsion, repellency, and effectiveness against biting flies in laboratory tests.

1. Improved production of industrially important hydroxy acids from domestic agricultural feedstocks. Hydroxy acids are used in a wide range of industrial products such as resins, waxes, nylons, plastics, lubricants, cosmetics, and additives in coatings and paints. Commercial hydroxy fatty acids from agricultural sources are only available from castor oil which is primarily imported from India. ARS researchers in Peoria, Illinois, have developed an economical catalytic process to produce hydroxy fatty acids from any agriculturally sourced vegetable oil. This new method will allow more types of hydroxy fatty acids to be developed without having to invest significant amounts of funds into lengthy hydroxy acid plant breeding programs. This work will also help replace imported hydroxy fatty acids obtained from imported castor oil, as United States farmers will be able to supply the world’s hydroxy market with traditional U.S. based oil using this technology. These new materials are beneficial to farmers, consumers, and retailers because they are environmentally friendly, expand utilization of U.S. based crops such as soybean and sunflower, and enhance economic security for rural communities.

2. Developed branched estolides as a green motor oil lubricant. By 2028, the worldwide lubricants demand is expected to reach 38.1 million metric tons. Green lubricants are needed to meet this demand while reducing reliance on petroleum and mitigating associated climate impacts. ARS researchers in Peoria, Illinois, have developed branched estolides from previously developed ARS branched fatty acid technology. This new green lubricant was developed specifically for automobile engines. This lubricant has surprisingly excellent properties that allow these materials to perform better in cold weather applications and to have an extended use life as compared to traditional petroleum motor oils. These new materials are beneficial to farmers, consumers, and retailers because they are environmentally friendly, expand utilization of soybean and sunflower oil, and enhance economic security for rural communities.

Review Publications
Evangelista, R.L., Isbell, T.A., Todd, J., Cermak, S.C. 2022. Euphorbia lagascae seed oil obtained by pre-pressing and solvent extraction. Industrial Crops and Products. 180. Article 114799.
Bantchev, G.B., Cermak, S.C. 2022. Correlating viscosity of 2-ethylhexyl oleic estolide esters to their molecular weight. Fuel. 309. Article 122190.
Ivey, A., Talbert, J., Evangelista, R.L., Vorst, K., Curtzwiler, G. 2021. Influence of a hydrocarbon side chain on the performance of Physaria fendleri-Castor oil polyurethane packaging adhesives. Cleaner Engineering and Technology. 4. Article 100216.
Yosief, H.O., Sarker, M.I., Bantchev, G.B., Dunn, R.O., Cermak, S.C. 2022. Physico-chemical and tribological properties of isopropyl-branched chicken fat. Fuel. 316. Article 123293.
Biresaw, G., Chen, Y., Chen, L., Ngo, H., Wagner, K., Vermillion, K., Cermak, S.C. 2022. Iso-oleic estolide products with superior cold flow properties. Industrial Crops and Products. 182. Article 114857.
Biswas, A., Cheng, H.N., Evangelista, R.L., Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Boddu, V.M., Kim, S. 2020. Evaluation of composite films containing poly(vinyl alcohol) and cotton gin trash. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. 28:1998-2007.
Doll, K.M., Cermak, S.C. 2022. Selective electrochemical oxidation of alcohols catalyzed by partially biobased TEMPO analogs. ChemistrySelect. 7(29). Article e202201736.