In Montana, scientists and professors Chaofu Lu and John Browse are researching ways to improve camelina’s seed and oil quality with a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Camelina has become a viable biofuel source in recent years with several companies around the world producing it for biofuel already, but this research will dig deeper into the camelina’s genetic makeup to find ways to breed a larger and better seed. Camelina has lots of unsaturated fat which creates oil that oxides and spoils quickly, so they are trying to breed camelina seeds that have higher oleic acid from 15 percent to 80 percent to make higher quality oil for biofuels.
Camelina has become a more popular crop for biofuels lately because it is drought, disease and cold resistant and has a short lifespan. The grant is part of seven projects chosen by DOE and USDA for bio-based fuel research.