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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 #387759

Research Project: Versatile Biobased Products with Multiple Functions

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Fuel properties of low-erucic acid pennycress (LEAP) oil biodiesel

item Dunn, Robert - Bob

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/7/2022
Publication Date: 1/21/2022
Citation: Dunn, R.O. 2022. Fuel properties of low-erucic acid pennycress (LEAP) oil biodiesel. Industrial Crops and Products. 178. Article 114543.

Interpretive Summary: Growing market demands for biodiesel as a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative fuel has caused an increase in efforts to identify and develop new plant oil feedstocks. While field pennycress (FPC) has shown promise as a biodiesel feedstock, this crop has other benefits including use as a Winter cover crop in the upper Midwestern U.S. to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and prevent the growth of pesticide-tolerant weeds. Genetic modified low-erucic acid pennycress (LEAP) oil has improved FPC by increasing its oil content and improving the fuel properties of biodiesel. Results showed that the LEAP biodiesel has a lower viscosity (resistance to flow) than biodiesel made from FPC oil. Compared with soybean biodiesel, the LEAP biodiesel has better cold flow properties which makes it a more suitable fuel during cold weather. Results from this research will be used by scientists and engineers in the biodiesel and fuel industries trying to develop new plant oils and other types of feedstock for conversion to biodiesel.

Technical Abstract: Biodiesel is a renewable biobased fuel obtained from transesterification of plant seed oil with methanol. This fuel has physical properties that make it attractive as an alternative fuel for compression-ignition (diesel) engines. In the United States (US), there is a need to increase the production of sustainable and environmentally friendly biofuels, including biodiesel, to supplement fossil fuels. To meet these challenges, emphasis is being placed on expanding the use of low-cost non-food oils as feedstocks for biodiesel. Low-erucic acid pennycress (LEAP) was developed from field pennycress as a cover crop for use in the Upper Midwestern US. The objective of the present study was to convert LEAP oil to biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esters [FAME]) and evaluate its fuel properties. The same process was applied to FAME made from natural field pennycress (FPC) oil as a baseline for comparison of results. The LEAP oil-FAME (LEAP-ME) had a kinematic viscosity at 40 °C (KV40) that was lower than that of FPC oil-FAME (FPC-ME), and nearly equivalent to the KV40 of soybean oil-FAME (SME). The total saturated-FAME (SFAME) concentration of LEAP-ME (5.40 mass%) was greater than that of FPC-ME. Since SFAME have high melting points, this caused LEAP-ME to have a higher cloud point (CP) than FPC-ME. However, the CP of LEAP-ME (-6.8 °C) was lower than those of canola oil-FAME (CaME; -2.5 °C) and SME (-2.8 °C). The oxidative induction period at 110 °C (IP110) of LEAP-ME was poor (0.83 h), indicating that it would need to be treated with antioxidants before distribution as an alternative diesel fuel.