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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359055

Research Project: Replacement of Petroleum Products Utilizing Off-Season Rotational Crops

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Turning a burden into an opportunity: Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) a new oilseed crop for biofuel production

item ZANETTI, FEDERICA - University Of Bologna, Italy
item Isbell, Terry
item Gesch, Russell - Russ
item Evangelista, Roque
item ALEXOPOULOU, EFTHYMIA - Centre For Renewable Energy Sources And Savings (CRES)
item Moser, Bryan
item MONTI, ANDREA - University Of Bologna, Italy

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/17/2019
Publication Date: 9/26/2019
Citation: Zanetti, F., Isbell, T.A., Gesch, R.W., Evangelista, R.L., Alexopoulou, E., Moser, B.R., Monti, A. 2019. Turning a burden into an opportunity: Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) a new oilseed crop for biofuel production. Biomass and Bioenergy. 130:105354.

Interpretive Summary: Pennycress is a developing oilseed crop suitable for the production of renewable fuels. European countries are interested in the development of pennycress and are exploring the suitability of it as a rotation crop in their location. This study examined the production of pennycress in the U.S., Italy and Greece as a winter rotation crop that produces a seed oil. The oil was then converted to biodiesel and the quality of the biodiesel examined where all locations produced an acceptable fuel. This study demonstrated that pennycress can grow as an over winter crop in a wide range of geographical locations.

Technical Abstract: Recently, an “old weed”, pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) has become an attractive non-food oilseed crop for Europe and the USA. Pennycress can be produced with existing farm equipment and infrastructure while being grown in the off-season between conventional commodity crops. The adaptation to marginal lands and the satisfactory seed yields make pennycress a viable alternative feedstock for biofuels. In the last decade, pennycress has been extensively studied as a potential oilseed crop in the USA, while receiving far less attention in Europe. Differences in climate and agricultural management between USA and Europe may not permit direct translation of pennycress agronomic knowledge across diverse environments. In the present study, sowing date and seeding rate of pennycress were evaluated in different European (Italy and Greece) and US (Minnesota and Illinois) locations to optimize site-specific production, and determine environmental influence on pennycress-derived biofuel. Pennycress productivity increased with seeding rate up to 1500m-2 in Europe, but only to 672m-2 in USA, while sowing in early autumn always improved yields. Seed yield of about 1 Mg ha-1 was achieved only in Greece, where adequate precipitation during the growing season was available. Seed yields were 250% and 140% higher in Greece and Italy, respectively, than Minnesota. Pennycress oil was suitable to convert into biofuel and its composition was influenced by growing environment. In Greece, polyunsaturated fatty acid content was 6% compared to Italy and Illinois. However, the oxidative stability of pennycress oil needs improvement to meet EU and US standards for biodiesel.