North Dakota Canola for Aviation Biodiesel Explored

CanolaCanola from North Dakota farmers could be the next source for biodiesel for aircraft. This story from the Billings (MT) Gazette says researchers in the northern plains have been exploring the oilseed’s possibility to fill aviation fuel tanks since 2011.

The Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan is one of eight locations testing different plant products for biofuels. The focus here has been on oilseeds such as canola, rapeseed camelina and mustard — “all crops that grow well in wheat-producing areas,” soil scientist Dave Archer said.

The scientists at Great Plains have just finished their first year of field trials and are waiting for the second round of fall-planted canola to come up, Archer said.

The oilseed varieties are being judged on their economic and environmental impacts, he said. Researchers are trying to find varieties not used for food that fit into existing crop rotations and that improve soil quality…

“It will certainly help the state,” said Barry Coleman, executive director of the Northern Canola Growers.

Coleman said canola is used for biodiesel production in Velva. If the crop could be used as a jet fuel as well, he said, it would gain popularity among farmers.

About 1.8 gallons of biodiesel are already made from canola each year.