Pennycress is an invasive plant, neither wanted nor utilized, and being viewed as a new source of bio-fuel. It is also known as stinkweed. It is the oil from the plant’s massive supply of seeds that is utilized. Acid, and alcohol is used in the initial stages of treatment resulting in a bio-diesel and glycerol. However further refining is needed to analyze if the fuel can meet standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
The Good and the Bad
It’s impressive to think of taking an ordinary roadway weed and acquiring such a complex material that can probably catapult the global world into the future. The pennycress grows quickly. However, the plant causes alarming ecological and economic problems in the western United States by obstructing river systems, ruining habitats for wildlife and livestock, limiting access for irrigation and diminishing water quality and quantity.
Pennycress has demonstrated its use as a bio-fuel, particularly in cold climates. Its cloud point, which is the temperature at which crystals are visible in the fuel, is an important factor in both bio-diesel and petro-diesel production. Another important factor is its pour point, the temperature at which the fuel does not pour due to excessive solidification.
Bio-fuels are being tested as jet-fuel also. The plant pennycress is mixed with regular JP-8 jet fuel.