Non-food crop oilseeds open the door to better biofuels

Vancouver, BC-based Calyx Bio-Ventures Inc. (TSXV: CYX),, is an agricultural technology company focused on renewable fuels including biojet and biodiesel. Calyx is the largest shareholder in Agrisoma Biosciences Inc.,, a company which is producing a new proprietary non-food energy feedstock crop, Resonance® carinata.

Carinata yields oil that can be refined into fuels that meet the specifications of petroleum-based fuels and work in existing engines as a 100 percent petroleum substitute without blending. From seed to sky, fuels produced from Resonance® carinata substantially reduce carbon and other harmful emissions, and help to reduce global petroleum dependence.

Carinata, which originally came from Ethiopian mustard, has an oil profile optimized for use in the biofuel industry, specifically for biojet fuel. There are two marketable products produced from the Resonance-carinata crop—oil for biofuels, and meal for animal feed. The oil can be used as a feedstock to refine drop-in jet fuel, biodiesel fuel and naphtha. The meal is used for animal feed that is high in soluble protein.

Carinata is a vigorous crop uniquely well suited to production in semi-arid areas delivering high yields and utilizing existing farm infrastructure. It offers good resistance to biotic stressors, such as insects and disease, as well as abiotic stressors, such as heat and drought. Carinata is a vigorous crop with a highly branching growth pattern and large seed size. It also has excellent harvestability with good lodging and shatter resistance.

For biofuel manufacturers, carinata provides a lower cost, uniform, long chain oil profile that enables additional efficiencies and returns from biofuel manufacturing processes. Resonance® carinata sets a new standard for energy feedstock crops, creating a step-change in economics for growers and biofuel manufacturers.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), biofuel production could reach approximately 112B gallons by 2030. To meet these targets, the IEA believes feedstock production would need to increase to 150M acres in 2030, up from 75M acres in 2010.

Feedstock for biodiesel is in high demand. Soybean and canola oils have been traditionally used, however the costs of those food grade oils limits their use in biofuels. Our non-food crops have lower input costs for crop production and greater yields of oils, as such these crop seeds provide farmers with a strong cash crop alternative to other crops.

Food crops are also less environmentally friendly, resulting in increased carbon emissions and the sacrifice of food crops. Approximately 33% of the corn crop in the USA in 2013, representing $2.6B in crop seed sales is used as feedstock for ethanol. Ethanol cannot be used to make biodiesel as it is not oil-based. Soybeans, a food crop which produces oil, are used as a feedstock for biodiesel. 24% of the soybean crop, representing $1.6B in soybean seed sales, is used for biodiesel feedstock. To ensure the future growth of biofuels, non-food crops must be the primary source of feedstock.

In Canada, the federal government required diesel to contain 2 percent renewable fuels as of July 1st, 2011. In the United States, the expanded Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) stipulates a minimum of 21 billion gallons of biofuel from non-food crops by 2022.

Globally, biojet fuel from vegetable oil has been approved by ASTM International, which is the globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards, for up to 50 percent blend rates, opening the door to 58 billion gallons of aviation biofuels.

On October 29, 2012, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) successfully completed the world’s first flight segment on 100% renewable, drop-in biofuel in a civilian aircraft, a Falcon 20 jet. The flight also showed a 50 percent reduction in aerosol emissions, a 25% reduction in particles, a 49% reduction in black carbon and a 1.5% improvement in fuel usage — a potentially significant savings for the aviation industry.

The flight was so significant that Popular Science Magazine named it one of the “Top 25 Most Important Scientific Events of 2012” and Discovery Channel covered the vent. This flight used drop-in fuel produced from carinata feedstock.

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