Pennycress: nuisance weed to natural landscapers; now potential source for biofuel

Photo: Pennycress

By Ann Perry
November 4, 2010, USDA news release

ARS chemist Bryan Moser makes biodiesel from pennycress. Link to photo informationA common roadside plant could have the right stuff to become a new source of biofuel, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, have found that Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) yields impressive quantities of seeds whose oil could be used in biodiesel production.

The scientists obtained oil from wild field pennycress, pretreated it with acid, and used a type of alcohol called methanol to react with the field pennycress oil to produce both biodiesel and glycerol. After some additional refining, the finished biodiesel was tested to see if it met the biodiesel fuel standard established by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The results suggested that, with some work, the previously problematic pennycress could become a commercial commodity.

Read more about the biofuel story here.

Read about the invasive problems with Field Pennycress at Invasive.org.

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