Mustard Seed Biodiesel for Some CA Buses

John Davis

Some locally grown mustard seeds could soon be powering buses in Monterey County, California.

This story from the San Mateo County (CA) Times says the mustard seed oil could be turned into biodiesel by the end of this year:

By December, Monterey-Salinas Transit officials hope to have refined mustard-seed oil — which will be mixed with regular diesel fuel — from about 3,000 pounds of seeds harvested in August from a 10-acre field in the King City area.

“We’re going to be using our oil late this year,” said Hunter Harvath, assistant general manager of the transit agency.

The timing depends on when the seed can be pressed and refined. Presses are in short supply this time of year because the wine grape crush is under way, he said.

The mustard seed experiment began in February on 20 acres owned by San Bernabe Vineyards near King City. Pacific gold and wild California mustards were planted to determine which variety of the plant would produce the most seed oil.

The ton and a half of seed will produce about 750 to 800 gallons of biodiesel. Like other biodiesel, the mustard oil will constitute 20 percent of the fuel mixture that powers the buses, he said.

The article goes on to say the experiment with the wild mustard seed ran into a snag when the field was overrun by turnips.