Camelina Oil as an Emerging Biofuel

Camelina Oil as an Emerging Biofuel


Hafiz Muhammad Arslan, B.Sc (Hons) Agriculture, 6th semester, Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad


Dr. Farooq Ahmad Khan, Associate Professor, Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

According to the theory of Entropy, the world is going towards destruction process in every second of time. The Climate and Weather are changing rapidly for the previous two decades. Seasons are shifting, glaciers are melting sea level is increasing; the frequency of floods, tsunamis, and the population are increasing. The change in climate is only due the human activities like use of fuel and diesel which have increased the concentration of CO2, NO, and chlorofluorocarbons. We cannot stop this process of destruction but we can slower it by use environmental friendly resources. Our natural resources are also rapidly depleting. According to the CIA World Facts book, our reserves of crude oil will finish by 2052, gas by 2060 and coal by 2088.

To address the issues of climate change and depletion of natural resources due to the excessive use of fuel and diesel oil, Scientists are, now,  concentrating on the production of the environmental friendly fuel. They are also successful in making biofuel from the different vegetable oils like linseed, canola, and soybean. There is a lot of work on the soybean oil based biofuel . Biodiesel, a biofuel, is replacing the mineral fuel. It does not produce any toxic material like lead and is biodegradable fuel. It is made from vegetable oil and other such types of renewable resources like fats and greases.

Biodiesel is cheaper than mineral fuel so, it is being opted by the fleet vehicles (truck, school buses and military vehicles) holders. Its use does not require any modification in any engine. Biodiesel not only can be used for biodiesel engines but it can also be used for diesel generators and as a lubricant, in homes for heating purposes or for asphalt and paint removal as well. As the population is increasing,  the demand of fuel is attracting the people towards biofuel. It emits lower smoke than other fuel and is environment friendly. It produces fewer amounts of air pollutants like carbon mono-oxide and hydrocarbons. That is way its use is safe for the environment and reduces cancer risk of diesel exhaust by 94%.It reduces the concentration of green house gases to about 80%.

Nowadays Camelina oil is emerging as a biofuel. It is an annual plant, with small in size, pale yellow flowers and reaches to the height of about 1-3 feet. At the maturing stage, it becomes woody, with arrow like leaves, having pointed and sharp ends, of about 3 inches long, with smooth edges. Seed pod shape and size are just like that of a small pea. The size of seed is very small ,one pound amounts to about 400,000 seeds.

Oil contents are about 40% unlike soybean which has 20% oil contents. For the population of 220-250 plants/m2, 7 kg /ha seed is required. The maximum requirement of nitrogen  is 75 kg /ha from which 35% /ha is applied at seedbed preparation stage and remaining at the time of 4-leaf growth stage. There is less shattering of seed pods, hence less seed loss. After full maturity, it can stand in fields up to 6 weeks without any damage. It can be combined easily as it has no fiber contents. The average yield is about 0.5-1.0 t/acre (1.25-2.5t/ha)., Animal bed is prepared from the straw.

Sustainable oils, a Seattle based renewable fuels company, specially researching on the Camelina oil,is the only company working for the biofuel production with the approval of United states Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Food and Drug Administration. This company has launched the largest research projects in North America. Its Camelina breeding programs were started in 2005 and it had completed more than 30 trials across the United States and Canada in 2009.In January 2009, it provided Biofuel, made from the Camelina oil to the Japan Airlines test flight. This company released three varieties named SO-40, SO-50, and SO-60 in December 2010 for planting in spring 2011.

Here a question arises as to why the scientists had chosen only Camelina crop for this purpose? Camelina had some distinctive attributes which made it fit for this purpose. Its seed is small having low concentration of water so it can be stored for a long time with respect to other oil seed crops and can be used more efficiently during oil extraction procedure. It can withstand the drought conditions and its water and fertilizer use efficiency are more than those of other oil seed crops. It can compete with the weeds so less requires weedicides.

This company is also promoting the market of Camelina oil by making the Airlines companies and military to its customers. Military is looking for the greener fuel suitable to environment and cost efficient. Biofuel produced by the Camelina oil reduces the emission of CO2 to about 75% as compared to mineral fuel based jet fuel.

Camelina-based jet fuel has been among those which are heavily tested by the U.S Air Force, The U.S Navy, The U.S Army and Japan Airlines. These multiple tests were operated on different air craft types and engines. As the price of soybean oil has already increased dramatically. So, now, Camelina oil will provide more economically advantageous production to the farmers producing Camelina crop in future.

In France, June 20, 2011– The Boeing 747-8 Freighter`s pilots Capt. Keith Otsuka and Capt. Rick Braun and Cargolux Capt. StenRossby —The first pilots who made a flight first time in the history using engines powered by the biodiesel– 747-8 Freighter landed at Paris Le Bourget Airport at 5:35 p.m. local time after completing the first transatlantic flight of a large commercial airplane powered on all engines by biodiesel oil.


Boeing 747-8 Freighter Arrives at Paris after Historic Biofuel Flight



It is not only used for biodiesel production but it  has also great importance in other industries like cosmetics, ghee industries.

Camelina has nutty and cabbage like flavor.

It is used for the salad dressing and in Chinese style cooking.

Its seed can be used as bread like that of sesame. It is also used in cosmetics and skin creams.

At present, the market of Camelina oil is low due to the limited awareness by the farmers and consumers of the benefits of Camelina oil. It is low input crop, so, it will attract a lot of producers due to its charming premium nature of the products. As it requires less amount of nitrogen and is drought resistant, It will be an ideal low input crop for the production of Biofuel in the future.


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