Upgrading Camelina for Lubes


Linnaeus Plant Sciences has licensed DuPont technology to develop and commercialize camelina oil, an oil seed crop that could replace petroleum in some industrial lubricants and greases.

Linnaeus, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has developed industrial applications for oil seeds for uses beyond fuels – including hydraulic fluids, greases and polymer production – for the last 12 years. The agreement includes oil gene intellectual property, advanced gene technologies and biotechnology expertise developed by DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del.

According to Linnaeus, the DuPont partnership will aid its efforts to improve camelina oils potential in industrial uses. Right now camelina suffers from many of the problems that vegetable oils have, and thats why the Dupont technology is going to be good, Jack Grushcow, Linnaeus president and chief operating officer, told Lube Report. Were going to improve the oil seeds profile so its got better oxidative stability than what this plant can normally produce.

Grushcow explained that the oil seeds key advantage is that it takes much less nitrogen to grow than most other oil seeds.

We have developed an active camelina breeding program and are fully committed to the development of the crop, integrating trait development through to large scale production, he stated. This agreement will enable us to greatly improve camelinas oil profile, delivering a non-food crop grown on marginal lands that has utility well beyond fuel.

One drawback with camelina oil is the presence of 18:2 (linoleic) and 18:3 (linolenic) fatty acids in it, Grushcow pointed out. Those are bad oils for feedstocks, he asserted. One of the things the relationship with DuPont is going to let us do is to use some of their technology to get rid of the 18:2 and 18:3, which will let us produce a very high quality feedstock in a non-food oil seed crop thats cheap to produce. A good feedstock for a lube is a good feedstock for a grease as well.

Camelina is also very drought-tolerant, Grushcow noted. Its also shorter seasoned than canola, so there are some lands where we can grow it, where you couldnt necessarily grow an oil seed like canola.

Linnaeus stated mission is to create value-added, renewable, biodegradable industrial oils in temperate climate oil seed crops. In 2008 Linnaeus formed the Industrial Oil Seed network, a group of researchers focused on developing oil seeds for use as feedstock substitutes for petroleum in a wide range of market applications.

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