Brassica is a genus of plant in the mustard family. Varietals of brassica have been developed specifically for biofuel production by the California Biomass Initiative at UC Davis under the direction of Dr. Steve Kaffka (a member of Biodico’s board of advisors). Brassica crops grown by UC Davis include pennycress, canola, camelina, and others. The varietals developed by Dr. Kaffka’s team are selected to be grown on marginal farmland and/or intercropped with orchards. They were also selected to use minimal irrigation. The biofuel crops do not compete for resources with food crops and are sensitive to California’s water scarcity. The different varietals are being grown throughout the State at UC Davis’ various agricultural extension centers, including the Westside Research Extension Center (WREC) adjacent to Red Rock Ranch. The WREC was founded by the father the owner of Red Rock Ranch, Vincent Diener.
Biodico has tested over 40 of UC Davis’ brassica varietals for oil content, oil suitability for biodiesel production, spectroscopic profiles, moisture content, meal content, meal volatile solids, CHP production from meal in gasification, and ash content. Oil content was tested in the laboratory by Soxhlet analysis and in the field by extrusion.
Biodico is continuing to work with UC Davis as the plant at Red Rock Ranch enters production and plants to produce commercial biofuel from purpose grown brassica varietals as soon as the necessary volumes are available.