Sten Stymne, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Vegetable oil is the agricultural product that chemically most resembles fossil oils and has therefore great potential to replace it, says Sweden’s Sten Stymne.
He’s part of an 11-million-Euro global project to engineer seed oils for bio-lubricant uses.
They aim to produce value-added vegetable oils for lubrication purposes in dedicated industrial oil crops within five years.
As the price of crude increases, vegetable oils will become more attractive. Soon the paddock you’re driving past could be growing the oil for your car.
The ICON project: Engineering seed oils for biolubricant uses
Department of Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden
Vegetable oil is the agricultural product that chemically most resembles a fossil oil and has therefore great potential to replace it. Cracking fossil hydrocarbons and building the desired chemicals with advanced organic chemistry usually requires many times more energy than is contained in the final product. Thus, using plant material in the chemical industry does not only replace the fossil material contained in the final product but also saves substantial energy in the processing.
The European Commission sponsored FP7 project ICON brings together many of the most prominent scientists in plant lipid biotechnology in an unprecedented world-wide effort. The objective is to produce added value oils for lubrication purposes in the form of wax esters in dedicated industrial oil crops within the time frame of five years.
ICON will also develop a tool box of genes and understanding for rational designing of a vast array of wax ester qualities.