Jet biofuel from camelina and carinata a step closer?

Jet biofuel produced by the oil extracted from ground seeds of camelina and carinata could be a step closer, thanks to new research from South Dakota State University (SDSU), reports Phys.org.

Glucosinolate is one of the bioactive compounds that remains after oil has been extracted from the ground seeds of camelina and carinata. According to Zhengrong Gu, an associate professor at South Dakota State University, he and doctoral student Yuhe Cao have developed a means of extracting glucosinolate from the oilseed meal, which may lead to high value uses of the chemical.

Low oil prices have meant developing commercially viable jet fuel from camelina and carinata has proven a challenge. Gu and Cao’s breakthrough could change that.

"Making the best use of all the oilseed components will help get us one step closer to making renewable biofuels an economically viable option,” in a statement published on Phys.org.

In response to the US Navy’s Great Green Initiative to develop biofuel from non-food oilseeds, SDSU researchers have been determining the suitability and sustainability of oilseed crops in the Dakotas and assessing the oil and fuel characteristics of the seeds since 2012. Camelina and carinata, from the mustard family, are two of the oilseeds being studied.

The new process sees the glucosinolate extracted with ethanol and then impurities, such as proteins, removed with membrane filtration. Gu explained in the statement that after isolation, the glucosinolate will be stable and not degraded or hydrolysed to isothiocyanates, nitriles and thiocyanates by the enzyme.

The presence of glucosinolate limits the amount of camelina and carinata meal that can be incorporated into animal diets to 10 percent. "It's very toxic," he pointed out, and it's that toxicity that Gu wants to utilize—to kill fungus and weeds or even cancer cells.

"If we recover it and, at the same time give the solids back to use as animal feed, we have a win-win game," said Gu, who is looking for collaborators to help develop high-value uses for glucosinolate.

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