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Content archived on 2024-04-16

Seed oils for new chemical applications


The programme includes advanced traditional breeding procedures such as: recombinative crossing, field evaluations, F1 hybrid breeding, disease resistance screenings. Also used are sophisticated instrumental analytics for seed oil quality determinations in early breeding stages (eg gas liquid chromatography (GLC), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and near infrared reflectance (NIR)), as well as modern biotechnologies. All these techniques are used to enable the selection of high yielding, disease resistant and ecologically well adapted varieties. Further speciality oils high in petroselinic, vernolic and lauric type acids are being developed by domesticating species of Coriandrum, Euphorbia lagascae and Cuphea in field tests under suitable Mediterranean conditions.

Seed oils which have been produced in these genetic and production experiments serve for technical application and physicochemical tests in laboratory and pilot plant scales on the oleochemical base materials including fatty alcohols, sulfonates, alcyl polyglycosides and derivatives manufactured thereof (eg surfactants).

The goal of the project is the developing of sunflower varieties characterized by disease tolerance or resistance and a high oleic acid content. Screening work has been carried out in wild relatives to find out the genetic variability in material to be utilized later on with a series of experiments being carried out to find the best treatments for breaking down dormancy in wild and weedy species. In vitro techniques such as embryoculture and organogenesis have been perfected for furthur studies with several hundred crosses between high oleic acid (HOA) lines being performed. Analysis of some morphological and biochemical characters were carried out in several accessions of species such as Helianthus annuus, Argophyllus, etc which were grown in the greenhouse and in the field. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fingerprinting and random amplified polymorphic DNA marker (RAPD) analysis were applied on the seedlings and plant tissues to find genetic markers. A series of experiments were carried out to find out the best treatments for breaking down dormancy in wild and weedy species.
The aim is to obtain essential methodological know how and basic genetic material towards the development of domestic plant resources and production of economically feasible agronomical seed oils for uses in the chemical industry. Including work on plant breeding, agronomical testing of novel or unconventional crops, oil extraction methods and chemotechnical evaluation of these oils by the chemical industry, this project covers the entire vegetable oil production chain.

Two crop species, rapeseed (Brassica napus) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus), will be the main subjects. These represent the crops producing highest oil yields in the northern and southern European area, respectively, and are at present almost exclusively seed oils for food uses. In order to open additional new markets for nonfood, oleochemical uses, appropriate new varieties with additional production and/or oil qualities will be developed and tested. The particular objectives are as follows.

Agronomically adapted stocks of high erucic acid rapeseed (HEAR), high oleic acid rapeseed (HOAR), high oleic acid sunflower (HOAS), and disease resistant HOAS, will be constructed and established at a scale allowing for the production of sufficient samples for work on oil extraction methods and testing the oils in the the chemical industry. In addition to these major crops for which large scale application seems to be feasible, three lesser known (unconventional) crops will be evaluated and agronomically tested (high petroselinic acid Coriander, high vernolic acid Euphorbia, and high MCFA Cuphea).

High pressure extraction of sunflower oil will be tested and evaluated with regard to its influence on the industrial qualities of the oil and the byproducts. Commercially available techniques will be used to produce the oils for testing in the chemical industry. The oils, which are provided by the participants of the project, will be evaluated with regard to their utility in the production of certain base chemicals. The base chemicals produced will be tested for the preparation of deochemical derivatives which could be the basis for surfactants and surfactant mixtures. These surfactants will be evaluated with regard to their technical, economical and econological characteristics. A final assessment will be made of the feasibility of a novel vegetable oil chain becoming possible.

The final outcome from this project is expected to be manifold but should be of interest to both farming and the chemical industry. Farmers will get information on, and seeds for, novel crops for which a market potential could be assessed. The chemical industry will get information on the potential usefulness of vegetable oils as a raw material which might open up new developments in the area of environmentally sound chemistry.


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Participants (15)