The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Pass the Mustard: Why Carinata is Taking Root as Biofuel

Navigant Research forecasts that the “global biofuels production will reach 61 billion gallons by 2023, replacing nearly 6 percent of global transportation fuel production from fossil sources and generating $70 billion in new revenue over the next decade.” The demand for an appropriate crop that can provide biofuels, without competing for land use with food crops, is on. The emergence of non-food feedstocks to fuel the international biofuel demand is on the horizon.

The “Holy Grail” of non-food feedstocks has arrived with a proprietary non-food energy feedstock crop called carinata which yields oil that is being refined into fuel that meet the specifications of petroleum-based fuels and work in existing engines without blending.

This new kid on the biofuel block taking root is the carinata seed. Carinata is a leafy plant originating in Ethiopia, also referred to as Ethiopian mustard and Abyssinian mustard, and produces oil seeds being used as a biofuel which mimics the attributes of its petroleum-derived counterpart. To date, carinata has demonstrated agronomic success across sixty commercial sites and farms in the Canadian and U.S. prairies. Carinata is a non-food, energy feedstock crop which yields oil that can be refined into fuels that meet the specifications of petroleum-based fuels and work in ground and air transportation engines without engine modifications or blending.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) seeks to decrease net carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by 2050. The Renewable Fuel Standard, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal program that requires that transportation fuel sold in America contains a minimum volume of renewable fuels. Originating with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and extended in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the standard mandates 36 billion gallons of biofuels usage by 2022, with a maximum of 15 billion gallons derived from food crops, and a minimum of 21 billion gallons from advanced biofuels. 

The use of bio-jet fuel from non-food sources can help meet those goals. The production of carinata substantially reduces carbon and other harmful emissions, and helps to reduce global petroleum dependence. Carinata has been successfully used to produce a drop-in jet fuel that is compatible with existing jet engines without any engine modifications.

Other raw ingredients of biofuel are varied and include corn, soybean, algae, sugarcane and waste products. What makes carinata worth watching and why are researchers and scientists developing this alternative biofuel?

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. Non-food crops such as carinata 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 — especially when grown on our least expensive farmlands as part of a rotation strategy that can utilize fallow lands.

The New York Times reported that the growth of the biofuels industry has created a scarcity of land for food crops in regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

Approximately 33 percent of the corn crop in the U.S. in 2013, representing $2.6 billion in crop seed sales is used as feedstock for ethanol. Ethanol can’t be used to make biodiesel as it is not an oil-based feedstock. Soybeans, which produce oil, are used as a feedstock for biodiesel. 24 percent of the soybean crop, representing $1.6 billion in soybean seed sales, is used for biodiesel feedstock. To ensure the future growth of biofuels, non-food crops need to become the primary source of feedstock. The amount of feedstock derived from food crops is already at the limit allowed by law so all growth will need to be from “advanced biofuel” sources. Biodiesel is the only certified “advanced biofuel” under this standard, hence represents the most direct opportunity to gain market share. 

The biodiesel fuels customer base includes commercial ground transportation, the military, who have legislated 50% biofuel content by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025, and the aviation industry, who are certifying 50 percent biofuel content by 2020. Biodiesel and biojet fuels can only be manufactured from oil “feedstock” and represent a combined opportunity that is similar to, if not larger than ethanol. This opportunity translates into a minimum of 6 billion gallons of feedstock for biodiesel applications and up to 30 billion gallons of feedstock for biojet fuel in the next decade. 

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

After crushing the carinata oilseeds and extracting the oil, the residual is ground into a co-product meal for use in cattle markets. This is essential to the overall crop value proposition as it recaptures so much of the costs and assists in the economic viability of this burgeoning biofuel. When the meal’s full value is achieved, and at scale, the cost of producing biofuel with carinata is cost-competitive for energy customers.

Based upon the yields per acre and the make-up of the carbon chains within the oilseed, carinata has higher efficiency than the next best performing oilseed in existence today. In short, we learned that we can produce more fuel per acre on semi-arid lands than any other oilseed in existence today. Carinata was certified as a feedstock under the Roundtable for Sustainable Biomass. In 2012, carinata was used to power the world’s first civil aviation flight powered by 100 percent biofuel with the NRC Flight Research Laboratory world’s first 100 percent biofuel flight powered by carinata.

In 2013, a working group comprised of representatives from energy companies, U.S. national laboratories and a Canadian national laboratory, extensively tested ReadiDiesel refined from carinata against nine other renewable diesels and found that the carinata-based diesel looked more like petroleum-derived fuel than the others. In fact, the carinata-based diesel met the specification for petroleum diesel. This is significant because that fuel could be used 100% unblended as a petroleum substitute. The increasing demand for feedstock will increase the market for feedstock from non-food crop seeds to $1 billion over the next decade and carinata is uniquely positioned to be the feedstock to meet this new market.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now



DOE Releases Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Hawaii

Jennifer Delony DOE released a final programmatic environmental impact statement for Hawaii to provide federal, state and county gove...

The 800 Ways Taxpayer Money Supports Fossil Fuel Industries

Reed Landberg, Bloomberg As world leaders converge on New York for a United Nations gathering that’s expected to have a strong emphasis on cli...

Makers of Fuel From Plants Feel Forsaken in Obama’s Climate Push

Mario Parker, Bloomberg Producers of motor fuels from plant waste say they have been left behind in President Barack Obama’s push to fight cl...
clean energy

Report: Vermont Clean Energy Sector Jobs Increased 9.8 Percent Since 2013

Jennifer Delony Vermont saw a 9.8 percent increase in clean energy sector jobs since 2013, and jobs in the sector are expected to gro...

PRESS RELEASES Welcomes Jennifer Delony as Associate Editor

PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce that Jennifer Delony has joined the company...

Customized Energy Solutions Executes Agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) for Important Energy Storage Study

Customized Energy Solutions (CES) has entered into agreements with Massachusetts Clean ...

CleanTX Releases New White Paper on the Future of Texas Solar in Texas

We love this new White Paper from our clean energy partners CleanTX

Sun Xtender® Launches New Website at

The newly designed website for Sun Xtender solar batteries is now live on the World Wid...


energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...

Northeast States Create Cap-and-Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Northeast states have worked together for several decades to address air quality issues and, more recently, climate c...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Pt 2

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 2 of a 6-Part Series Prevailing Heati...

Park District Goes Solar, Saves Big While Preserving Open Space

Not only do community parks provide green space for recreation and leisure, they also increase property values, attra...


Don Konantz is President & CEO of Calyx Bio-Ventures,, an agricultural technology company focused on renewable fuels including biojet and biodiesel.


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Biogas 3: free online trainings on sustainable small-scale biogas f...

The main objective of BIOGAS3 (Sustainable Small-scale biogas production...

International Energy and Sustainability Conference 2015

The fourth International Energy and Sustainability Conference will be he...

2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...


New coating extends cylinder life 8 times longer than traditional c...

Hydroelectric turbine systems operate in extremely harsh conditions. The...

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

SAP for Utilities Blog

The Eventful Group produces the annual SAP for Utilites Conference ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now