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Iranian researchers produce biodiesel from flixweed seed oil

Under a project to deliver a new generation of green transport fuel, researchers the Islamic Azad University in Iran have produced biodiesel from flixweed seed oil. Flixweed (Descurainia sophia), also called tansy mustard, it is a member of the mustard family like the oilseed crop, canola.

(According to the US Forest Service, Flixweed is native to Europe and northern Africa. It probably arrived in North America in the mid-1800s as an impurity in crop seed, and was widespread by the 1920s. The invasive plant now occurs in 48 states, excluding Alabama and Florida; it has also been introduced in South America, Asia, southern Africa, and New Zealand.)

Mehdi Alami, an analytical chemistry graduate of the Islamic Azad University, said they had selected flixweed as an oilseed crop for fuel production because it needs few inputs to grow—no cultivation, attention, herbicides or irrigation. Moreover, the plant grows in various climates and is non-edible, making it an ideal choice given the fuel-versus-food debate weighing on the viability of biofuels.

Alami said experiments with the crop revealed it contained 22% of oil and a fatty acid composition which makes it apt for being turned into a biofuel and biodiesel.

(A 2009 study by a team in Lithuania found flixweed seeds contained 32.2% oil.)



I am not sure that the food vs fuel debate is the right way to look at it. The problem is land use for food or fuel. In this case, it does not matter whether you are using an edible feedstock (like corn) or an inedible feedstock like flixweed; in either case, you are using land that could be used for food, for fuel.
On the other hand, it sounds like a good candidate for a biofuel feedstock if it is that easy to grow. (I am sure it will need irrigation to grow well, in commercial quantities - that is what they find for jatropha).
It is also a little odd to think of research like this coming out of Iran which has loads of oil, but then - why not - research is research and it does not matter who makes the breakthroughs. So well done, I wish them well - a good biofuel feedstock would be welcome.


One word: WATER. That will be the real challenge for land crop-based biofuels. As a Californian.


North-South Oil pipelines are not currently politically acceptable but much larger North-South fresh water pipelines may soon be one of the solution?

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