The United States’ Department of Agriculture researchers found a plant called field pennycress to be a perfect match for a biofuel resource, because its seeds contain a lot of oil that could be used to fuel cars.
Belonging to the Brassicaceae family, with relatives such as canola, camelina and mustard, the field pennycress usually grows near roads and where food crops couldn’t normally resist.
The researchers processed the field pennycress by pretreating it with acid and then methanol, to obtain biodiesel and glycerol. All of the further tests on the biodiesel they produced revealed that the pennycress can be used commercially and met all of the modern fuel standards.
Furthermore, the field pennycress-derived biodiesel met the temperature standards and kept its properties, untreated, down to -10 degrees Celsius for crystallization and -18 degrees Celsius for viscosity (pour point), beating soybean-based biodiesel.
The field pennycress can also be grown during winter and harvested in late spring, so it can be a prosperous business for farmers for an entire year.