Innovation Fuels to test pennycress feedstock

By Susanne Retka Schill | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 28, 2008 at 10:54 a.m. CST

Albany, N.Y.-based biodiesel company Innovation Fuels Inc. is investigating the potential of pennycress as a biodiesel feedstock.

Field pennycress is a winter annual weed, also known by farmers as stinkweed or frenchweed that grows widely across the Midwest. It is a member of the mustard family - carrying heart-shaped, flat seed packets that yield 36 percent oil when crushed.

In the first year of trials being conducted by Innovation Fuels and Morrisville State College in Morrisville, N.Y., 10 acres of pennycress will be seeded in five locations in upstate New York, said John Fox, president of Innovation Fuels. "We're planting the test plots to see if pennycress can be intercropped with soybeans and corn and the efficiency of the crop in oil production." The farmers involved in the trials will plant the pennycress in September, which will be harvested in May and June.

"We're really pleased with the oil," Fox said. "We've made some biodiesel from the pennycress and are making evaluations now." The initial analysis shows good cold flow properties, he said, which will make it an ideal blend with the company's current biodiesel production from waste oil, tallow and rendered fats.

Fox said pennycress, which has been studied by the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., needs to be developed as an alternative feedstock crop. "It's up to biodiesel producers to spur the movement so we can build the knowledge base to develop these crops," he said.

Biodiesel Magazine reported on the Illinois center's work in the February 2008 issue. To read the story, visit:

Innovation Fuels operates a 40 MMgy biodiesel plant in New York Harbor and is developing two plants in upstate New York. As well, the company recently acquired a permitted site in Milwaukee, Wis., from North American Biodiesel LLC. Engineering work is underway for a planned 50 MMgy biodiesel plant in the Milwaukee Port, Fox said.
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