The PBI is engaged in research and development of crops for biodiesel and solutions for implementation in industry. Currently these projects are funded by ARC-Linkage projects, and RIRDC in conjunction with industry partners.
- Plant breeding
- Feedstock selection
- Identification of value-added opportunities
- Demonstration of value chain elements
PBI is conducting a Brassica juncea (Indian mustard) breeding program for biodiesel. The program has a breeding strategy to improve the genetic characteristics of Australian mustard lines together with germplasm from India and Pakistan.
The objective is the introduction of Indian Mustards as a rotation “break-crop” rather than a primary crop competing with other cereal crops.
It is anticipated that this program will release improved cultivars by the end of 2010.
The strategy to-date has been to concentrate on first generation feedstocks which are applicable to the northwest region of NSW. The criteria for a successful feedstock are likely to be compatible with the issues of food vs fuel debate, relative price stability and crop sustainability.
Identification of value-added opportunities
Research is also being conducted into mustard by-products. In particular, the industrial uses of the glucosinolates which are associated with the mustard meal.
Brassica juncea offers substantial benefits for agronomy as a bio-fumigant, and the research strategy is centred on identification of the optimum forms of delivery mechanisms.
Demonstration of value chain elements
The research program seeks to demonstrate the entire value-chain of biodiesel production on-site at PBI - Narrabri. Output production from the mustard breeding program will supply seed for crushing, from which the oil is processed using an industry partner’s processor into biodiesel for use in PBI farm equipment.
Through the demonstration of a regional model and the viability of the entire value-chain, it is hoped that farmers of the region will evaluate and adopt mustard production as a sustainable bio-fuel source and further create industry diversity in the region.
Further research into second generation feedstocks may be evaluated as well as evaluation of novel processing technologies, such as lignocellulosic and enzyme treatment processes.