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New Aussie technology set to be "game-changer" for vital renewable oils: scientists

Pubdate:2017-04-14 10:04 Source: Click: times

CANBERRA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers believe the nation's next "oil boom" - the vegetable and plant-based kind - could come from leaves and stems, in a "game-changing" development in renewable oils.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have signed an agreement with U.S.-based company Amfora, which will advance development of the technology to extract oil from leaves and stems.

Dr Allan Green from the CSIRO said in addition to use in human foods, many farm animals require oil-rich feed, while plant oils could also be used in biofuels and industrial uses. He said there would be a need for more plant-based oil in the future, and this technology would increase efficiency.

"Previously it has only been possible to extract oil from the oil-rich seeds and fruits of some specialized plants, such as canola, soybean, sunflower, coconut and oil palm," Green said in a statement on Thursday.

"What we have been able to do is switch on this high-level oil production in vegetative tissue, such as in stems and leaves, as well."

According to the CSIRO, the research team has been able to extract 35 percent oil content in some plants' vegetative tissue; the same amount as in many oil seed crops.

"If the technology were applied to existing oil crops, it could potentially treble oil productivity and greatly expand renewable oil production worldwide," Green said.

"We are using solar energy captured by the plant to convert the leaf's starch reserves into more energy-dense oil molecules, which significantly increases the energy value of the vegetative tissue where the oil accumulates."

The CSIRO has said Amfora will use the technology to develop oil content in the vegetative tissue of corn and sorghum, meaning they can market a feed for dairy farmers which does not require them to purchase additional supplement oils, such as tallow or cotton seed, required for healthy feed.

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