Carinata taking root as biofuel crop

Carinata taking root as biofuel crop

A CROP that can provide biofuels without competing for land used to grow food crops is needed as biofuel demand is expected to continue.

A proprietary, non-food energy feedstock crop called carinata may be the answer, according to Don Konantz, president and chief executive officer of Calyx Bio-Ventures. The crop yields oil that can be refined into a fuel that meets the specifications of petroleum-based fuels and works in existing engines without blending.

Carinata is a leafy plant that originated in Ethiopia, also referred to as Ethiopian mustard and Abyssinian mustard. It produces oilseeds that are being used as a biofuel. To date, carinata has demonstrated agronomic success across 60 commercial sites and farms in Canada and the U.S.

Konantz explained that the production of carinata substantially reduces carbon and other emissions and helps reduce global petroleum dependence. Carinata has also been successfully used to produce a drop-in jet fuel that is compatible with existing jet engines without requiring any engine modifications.

Carinata has lower production costs and greater oil yields, which Konantz noted can provide farmers with a strong cash crop alternative, especially when grown as part of a rotation strategy that can utilize fallow lands.

After crushing the carinata oilseeds and extracting the oil, the residual can also be ground for use in cattle feed, he added.

Based on its yields per acre and the makeup of the carbon chains within the oilseed, carinata has higher efficiency than other oilseeds.

"In short, we learned that we can produce more fuel per acre on semi-arid lands than any other oilseed in existence today," Konantz said.

In 2013, a working group comprised of representatives from energy companies, U.S. national laboratories and a Canadian national laboratory extensively tested ReadiDiesel, refined from carinata, against nine other renewable diesels and found that the carinata-based diesel looked more like petroleum-derived fuel than the others. According to Konantz, this is significant because that fuel could be used 100% unblended as a petroleum substitute.

"The increasing demand for feedstocks will increase the market for feedstocks from non-food crop seeds to $1 billion over the next decade, and carinata is uniquely positioned to be the feedstock to meet this new market," he added.

Volume:86 Issue:23

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