Camelina: A Better Biofuel?

An overlooked native plant has a lot going for it as a biofuel, and wouldn't take away from food production.

"Camelina is a wild-growing plant in dry portions of the American west and northwest that is gaining recognition for its potential for conversion to biodiesel. "First, it grows on land unsuitable for food crops. It has yields that are roughly double that of soy. The oil it produces is more cold-resistant than the average biodiesel feedstock. It tolerates cold climates well - it has been grown for years in pockets of Montana. It's supported by research and field trials at a number of land-grant colleges around the country - Oregon State, Montana State, Idaho among them. It grows wild in the US, which is to say it grows here, and grows well, and plays well with other crops. It has a particularly attractive concentration of omega-3 fatty acids that make camelina meal, left over after crushing, a particularly fine livestock feed candidate that is just now gaining recognition in the US and Canada"

Furthermore, camelina is unique for the role it plays in supporting existing agriculture: it "can be grown in a rotation of wheat crops. Farmers who have followed a wheat-fallow pattern, as is often seen in Washington and Oregon, can switch to a wheat-camelina-wheat pattern, realize up to 100 gallons of camelina oil per acre, and gain up to 15 percent more productivity on the wheat."

While camelina research is in the early stages, if it is the miracle plant that some advocates are claiming, it will have a substantial impact on American regional planning and agricultural practices."

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

Full Story: camelina, an advanced biodiesel “wonder crop”

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