The ethanol industry might need to make way for a new biofuel crop. The EPA just increased its requirements for the amount of renewable fuel in gasoline. Researchers working on bio fuel production say South Dakota could become a center for new oil seed crops.
The Environmental Protection Agency just released new federal standards for renewable fuel. These standards increase demands for all biofuels. EPA officials hope the change boosts production in the global market and lowers carbon emissions.
Oil seed researcher Bill Gibbons is with South Dakota State University. He says the new standards reflect a trend of increased renewable fuel production in South Dakota. Gibbons says researchers tested a broad range of oil seed crops. He says effort eventually narrowed in on Ethiopian mustard, or carinata. He says these seeds are semi-arid crops that grow well in annual rotation with wheat.
Gibbons says South Dakota’s oil seed research and initiative helps meet the new renewable fuel standards.
“That’s what we’re working through now is trying to gradually ramp up production, finding markets in existing biodiesel for that oil, eventually you get the crop produced on enough acres that it would then create an incentive for a person or a group of investors to come in and build a facility to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel fuel from those oils," says Gibbons.
Gibbons says he helped to first bring non-food oil crops to western and central South Dakota. He says the initiative came from the U.S. Navy wanting to diversify fuel sources for jet and diesel engines five years ago. Since then, he sees the usage of oil seed crops to continue increasing in the future.
“Thinking about what the ethanol industry did to the corn industry in terms of profitability, we see that same model potentially happening with carinata as an alternative oil seed crop for western and central South Dakota and building a similar industry out in that part of the state," says Gibbons
Gibbons also adds that carinata benefits agriculture as a high protein food for livestock.