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Title: Production and Evaluation of Biodiesel from Field Pennycress (Thlaspi Arvense L.) Oil

item Moser, Bryan
item Knothe, Gerhard
item Vaughn, Steven
item Isbell, Terry

Submitted to: Energy and Fuels
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/4/2009
Publication Date: 7/2/2009
Citation: Moser, B.R., Knothe, G.H., Vaughn, S.F., Isbell, T. 2009. Production and Evaluation of Biodiesel from Field Pennycress (Thlaspi Arvense L.) Oil. Energy and Fuels. 23:4149-4155.

Interpretive Summary: This research reveals that field pennycress oil is acceptable as an alternative domestic non-food feedstock for biodiesel production. As a result of the current debates about fuel versus food issues, alternative non-food feedstocks for biodiesel production are an important area of current research. The objective of this study was to produce biodiesel from field pennycress oil and evaluate its fuel properties taking into consideration important biodiesel fuel standards. Field pennycress-biodiesel has excellent low temperature properties and cetane number as well as acceptable oxidative stability and viscosity when compared to the American biodiesel standard (ASTM D6751). These results will be important to biodiesel producers, distributors, and end-users (customers) because a new domestically produced biodiesel fuel was described that exhibits favorable fuel properties. This research may ultimately improve market penetration, availability, and public perception of domestically produced agricultural fuels such as biodiesel, thus affording greater national independence from imported petroleum-based fuels.

Technical Abstract: Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) oil is evaluated for the first time as a potential feedstock for biodiesel production. Biodiesel was obtained in 82 wt % yield by a standard transesterification procedure with methanol and sodium methoxide catalyst at 60 deg C and an alcohol to oil ratio of 6:1. Acid catalyzed pre-treatment to reduce the acid value of crude field pennycress oil resulted in a yield after methanolysis of 94 wt %. Field pennycress oil had high contents of erucic (13(Z)-docosenoic; 32.8 wt %) and linoleic (9(Z),12(Z)-octodecadienoic; 22.4 wt %) acids with unsaturated fatty acids comprising most of the remaining fatty acid profile. As a result, the methyl esters (biodiesel) obtained from this oil exhibited a high cetane number of 59.8 and excellent low temperature properties, as evidenced by cloud, pour, and cold filter plugging points of -10, -18, and -17 deg C, respectively. The kinematic viscosity and oxidative stability (Rancimat method) of field pennycress oil methyl esters was 5.24 mm2/s (40 deg C) and 4.4 h (110 deg C), respectively. Other fuel properties such as acid value, lubricity, free and total glycerol content, surface tension, as well as sulfur and phosphorous contents were also determined and are discussed in light of biodiesel standards such as ASTM D6751 and EN 14214. Also reported for the first time are cetane numbers of methyl esters of erucic and gondoic (methyl 11(Z)-eicosenoate) acids, which were found to be 74.2 and 73.2, respectively. In summary, field pennycress oil appears to an acceptable feedstock for biodiesel production.