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David Sparks Ph.d Beauty of Camelina
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: August 22, 2017

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The camelina plant, which shows promise as a biofuel because of the oil contained in its seeds, could become an economically feasible alternative to conventional jet fuel under certain market conditions, according to a new Oregon State University analysis. The current low price of conventional kerosene-based jet fuel makes it cost-prohibitive for commercial airlines to use camelina-based jet fuel, said Jeff Reimer, an economist in the College of Agricultural Sciences and the study’s lead author. Reimer’s regional economic model accounts for key sectors of the camelina supply chain as an alternative jet fuel, using detailed data for the Pacific Northwest. He found that a gallon of camelina-based jet fuel would cost about 60 cents more than conventional jet fuel.


I asked Russ Gesch, a plant physiologist with the USDA Soil Conservation Research Lab if Camelina made more sense as a fuel than ethanol. “Camelina, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a low input crop but it is much lower than some of our commodity crops like corn in terms of the amount of inputs such as fertilizer and so on. Thus there is less petroleum use attached to that. So from that standpoint it is more economical and from a fuels use standpoint, more carbon friendly you would say.”


Camelina can be grown on marginal land and has potential as a rotation crop with wheat, thus preserving soil that would otherwise erode from fallow fields and providing a new alternative market for farmers.

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