We consume around 185 million metric tonnes of plant, or vegetable, oil each year. There are practically unlimited market opportunities with this feedstock already used widely in human food and animal feed, industrial oleochemicals (plastics, lubricants etc), and biofuels. Future growth is primarily limited by production constraints such as land use and water and cost of goods: we need a highly productive, cheap source of plant oil that can readily expand.
The technology provider utilises its proprietary Leaf Oil technology to switch on seed oil pathways in leaves and stems of plants. This means that the technology adopter can produce very high yields of plant oil in high biomass crops like switchgrass, sugarcane, sorghum and even our prototype plant tobacco. This greatly increases plant oil productivity and capacity, unlocking new market opportunities.
Plant oil is usually produced only in the seeds of plants such as soybean, sunflower and canola or the fruits of oil palm. These sources represent only a small fraction of the plant biomass with the rest of the plant not directly used for oil accumulation. The Leaf Oil technology switches on oil production and accumulation in the entire plant, significantly increasing productivity compared to conventional plant oil crops. The plant oil produced in the leafy biomass are normal triglyceride type oils, just like canola oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable oils.
It has been demonstrated that leaves can produce in excess of 35% oil, far higher than the level produced in soybean seed. The technology provider is working toward deploying this technology in high biomass crops such as tobacco and sorghum to produce oil in greater quantities and at a lower cost of goods than ever before.
The plant oils produced are similar to normal vegetable oils, rich in C18 fatty acids and highly monounsaturated. They can be used in food/feed applications:
The plant oils are also suitable for use in many industrial applications:
Technoeconomic evaluation of the production chain by the technology provider has shown uising this plaftom, the company can produce oil at a significantly lower cost than current plant oil crops. The plant oils are normal vegetable oils which can be drop-in for many applications, or tailored for specialty applications.