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You can make biodiesel from pennycress, a common weed!  RSS feed

 
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Location: Meade County, South Dakota
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If you can grow Pennycress, you can grow your own Biodiesel feedstock! Read about it here: http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/grains__oilseeds/pennycress/
The oil can be cold pressed out of the seeds, which should be a lot easier to do at home, than other oils that have to be extracted with chemicals.
 
Wyatt Brush
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Okay, so this isn't NEW information, but there wasn't a topic in the biodiesel forum discussing it.
 
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what do you use to press it out? and how much do you have to grow to get a litre?
 
pollinator
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Wyatt, your link isn't working as posted for me, but it seems like maybe this is where you meant it to point? http://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/grains-oilseeds/pennycress/


The link states 800lbs per acre as a reasonable conventional farm production yield, with aerial seeding, chemical fertilizers, and combine harvesting. With 'up to' 36% oil content, this would translate to a theoretical max of 288lbs per acre from your 800lbs of seed. Assuming it weighs about the same as canola oil, this is about 36.5 gallons of oil. I'm not sure how efficient the biodiesel process would be with this oil, so I don't know how much biodiesel that ~36.5 gallons would translate into.


The big question in my mind is how could one harvest enough of these tiny seeds to get a meaningful yield, without involving a combine!


Interesting document containing oil/acre stats for quite a few crops here: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/biodiesel_sustainable.html

36.5 gallons/acre is on the low end of the crops discussed. That doesn't mean there isn't some niche where this would be a good fit. Soybeans, which produce most of the virgin biodiesel feedstock, are only a bit higher yielding in terms of oil... but the oil is essentially byproduct of the more valuable, and subsidized, livestock fodder.
 
Wyatt Brush
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Location: Meade County, South Dakota
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hunter holman wrote:what do you use to press it out? and how much do you have to grow to get a litre?

I don't know. I harvested some wild grown Pennycress by hand, this summer, but it took forever. I wanted to try to extract some oil, but because of all the time that went into harvesting the seeds, I decided to save them for use as a spice instead. If I had machinery like this: http://www.eqmachinery.com/index/products I could have enough seed, to try out extracting the oil. You can get a hand cranked oil press: https://www.lehmans.com/p-4290-hand-cranked-oil-press.aspx, but I was just going to try grinding the seeds, then boiling the flour in water, and skimming the oil off the top. I heard that that is how the American "Indians" processed the oil out of sunflower seeds.
 
Wyatt Brush
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Wyatt, your link isn't working as posted for me, but it seems like maybe this is where you meant it to point? http://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/grains-oilseeds/pennycress/


The link states 800lbs per acre as a reasonable conventional farm production yield, with aerial seeding, chemical fertilizers, and combine harvesting. With 'up to' 36% oil content, this would translate to a theoretical max of 288lbs per acre from your 800lbs of seed. Assuming it weighs about the same as canola oil, this is about 36.5 gallons of oil. I'm not sure how efficient the biodiesel process would be with this oil, so I don't know how much biodiesel that ~36.5 gallons would translate into.


The big question in my mind is how could one harvest enough of these tiny seeds to get a meaningful yield, without involving a combine!


Interesting document containing oil/acre stats for quite a few crops here: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/biodiesel_sustainable.html

36.5 gallons/acre is on the low end of the crops discussed. That doesn't mean there isn't some niche where this would be a good fit. Soybeans, which produce most of the virgin biodiesel feedstock, are only a bit higher yielding in terms of oil... but the oil is essentially byproduct of the more valuable, and subsidized, livestock fodder.


Yes, your link works, and mine doesn't. They must have changed the URL since I posted the link.
I can attest to the fact that you cannot get enough seeds to do much, harvesting by hand. If you had harvesting machinery already for another grain crop, you probably could get enough seeds. As for the practicality of raising Pennycress at home, for making your own biodiesel, I have no idea. I am just excited about a despised weed becoming an emerging crop. I am just throwing this information out here, just in case it is of value to people that are making biodiesel at home. I have never made biodiesel myself.
Personally, I think the mindset of "here is a weed that grows so well that it is a bother, but now we are going to raise it as a crop, so let's dump fertilizer by the ton on it", is silly. I would think that you could get just as good of a crop, without the fertilizer, if your soil was healthy.
 
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Funny enough China has has motorized harvester's that are hand driven, much like a tiller. These being smaller means they use less (fuel) and does require a bit more work as you cut and lay, then you have to go back and collect. here are electric powered, hand driven ones that you can use solar to charge it, then make a little bit at a time. You won't break even using a fuel powered harvester until you are talking about acres upon acres. So to offset the fuel use, you have to do by hand (ineffiecent) or an alternative powered (solar/electric) that you will allow you to harvest small fields worth.

Another bit of knowledge, using smaller tractors for smaller fields you will use roughly 1-2 gallons of fuel to harvest one acre, so you can make more than you use if you keep it small, but it would still require a second trip to collect if you working alone. The fuel usage is based on a small-ish Kabuta with a brush attachment on the back. The usage was between 1-2 gallons per acre per hour. Depending of course how fast you run the PTO and how fast you wanted to go, plus how many times you increase or decrease speed.
 
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