Reducing the carbon footprint of the lubricants industry by the substitution of mineral oil with rapeseed oil (RM062/LK0843)

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Crop Genetics

Abstract

Bio-lubricants have both environmental and technical advantages over their counterparts derived from mineral oils. In addition to being renewable, they are biodegradable, have lower volatile emissions and low environmental toxicity. They provide superior anti-wear protection and exhibit reduced combustibility. In addition, bio-lubricants have lower coefficients of friction, which results in reduced energy costs for equipment in which bio-lubricants as used. Although vegetable oils are used in blending some less stressed lubricants, their thermal stability is inadequate for the majority of applications as a consequence of the presence of excessive polyunsaturation of their constituent fatty acids. In view of the poor stability of conventional refined rapeseed oil, lubricant blenders currently favour the use of synthetic esters with a high renewables content of the production of the more stressed lubricant types; this more expensive base oil currently inhibits uptake of bio-lubricants by end users. Rapeseed oil has many physical and chemical properties that are advantageous for base oil for the lubricants industry. However, the total content of polyunsaturated fatty acids remains too high and the resulting instability is the principal barrier to its widespread use. The target set by the industry is reduction to less than 5% total PUFAs, whilst retaining the other desirable physical and chemical properties of rapeseed oil. To be economically competitive, some yield penalty in the crop and increased processing costs can be tolerated, as its principal competitor in the market place, low PUFA sunflower oil, is presently priced at up to $120/tonne more on the commodity markets. Nevertheless, the approaches we propose should result in little, if any, yield loss from fully developed varieties. The purpose of the project is to underpin the development of oilseed rape varieties for the production of oil for use in the lubricants industry. A key knowledge gap is an understanding of how to substantially reduce the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids in rapeseed oil without reducing the oil yield of the crop. We will address this knowledge gap and enable establishment of a closed supply chain. This involves: (a) The genetic improvement of oilseed rape by mutagenesis of specific genes in order to produce, from a high-yielding winter crop, oil very low in polyunsaturated fatty acids. (b) Assessment of the physical properties of the oil produced in order to validate its utility. (c) Provision of characterised oilseed rape lines to the breeding industry for the development of cultivars. (d) Catalysing assembly of a supply chain. The strategy is non-GM, so we anticipate no barriers to the widespread utilization of the resultant varieties in the UK.

Technical Summary

The purpose of the project is to underpin the development of oilseed rape varieties for the production of oil for use in the lubricants industry. Excessive content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in rapeseed oil produced from high-yielding winter varieties severely limits its use in all but the least stressed applications. A key knowledge gap is an understanding of how to substantially reduce oil PUFA content without reducing the oil yield of the crop. We will address this knowledge gap and enable establishment of a closed supply chain. This involves: (a) The genetic improvement of oilseed rape by mutagenesis of specific genes (orthologues of the Arabidopsis thaliana genes FAD2 and RFC4) in order to produce, from a high-yielding winter crop, oil very low in PUFAs. (b) Assessment of the physical properties of the oil produced in order to validate its utility, including an analysis of the impact of selective hydrogenation. (c) Provision of characterised oilseed rape lines to the breeding industry for the development of cultivars. (d) Catalysing assembly of a supply chain. The strategy is non-GM, so we anticipate no barriers to the widespread utilization of the resultant varieties in the UK.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
BB/F015798/1 01/04/2008 31/07/2013 £428,914
BB/F015798/2 Transfer BB/F015798/1 01/10/2013 31/05/2014 £103,977
 
Description We produced oilseed rape lines that are predicted to produce seed oil that is more stable at high temperatures than conventional rapeseed oil. The plants showed significant loss of vigor and potentially susceptibility to cold temperatures. For commercialization, it will be important to (1) confirm the expected increase in thermal stability of the oil, (2) improve the vigor of the plants and (3) test whether there is susceptibility to cold.
Exploitation Route The findings will be taken forward by the rapeseed breeding industry. This will be done by crossing the plant lines developed during the project with elite cultivars and selecting material with both the improved trait and good agronomic performance. If successful cultivars can be developed, the downstream industry who will benefit initially are farmers and seed crushers. End users would include both industry and the general public, after processing of the oil into formulations of renewable lubricants and hydraulic fluids, for example in sensitive environments such as marine and forestry, but also ethical domestic.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment,Transport

 
Description The findings are being used to licence germplasm for the breeding of oilseed rape varieties that are predicted to produce seed oil with greater thermal stability.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Low progoitrin food grade rapeseed
Amount £319,567 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/S004823/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2021
 
Title Brassica napus EMS mutation population 
Description Mutation population (TILLING population) of Brassica napus cv. Cabriolet developed by EMS treatment. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Development of oilseed rape lines producing thermo-stable oil. Others. 
URL http://revgenuk.jic.ac.uk/species/#brassicanapus
 
Title Mutants 
Description Specific DNA mutations in a Brassica napus orthologue of FAD2 gene that result in a reduction in the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids in rapeseed oil. 
IP Reference GB1103569.8 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted
Licensed Yes
Impact New oilseed rape varieties under development
 
Company Name NUSPEC OIL LIMITED 
Description Start-up aiming to exploit processing of novel rapeseed (and other) oils for industrial applications. 
Year Established 2019 
Impact Too early to have impacts as trading not yet commenced.