Evogene reports castor oil biofuel success

On the basis of the successful three-year field trial, Evogene unit Evofuel expects to commercialize its castor seeds in 2016.

Evogene Ltd. (TASE:EVGN) subsidiary Evofuel Ltd. has successfully completed three years of field trials in Brazil to develop castor bean as an alternative feedstock for production of biodiesel and other industrial uses. The field trials were jointly conducted with Brazilian agrobusiness SLC Agrícola SA (Bovespa: SLCE3).

The field trials demonstrated strong yield performance of Evofuel’s proprietary castor seed varieties under rain-fed conditions in northeast Brazil, and supported the use of castor seed as a competitive biodiesel feedstock. The castor seed varieties could potentially be useful for the lubricant, biopolymer and other industries, which use castor oil and have to cope price instability.

On the basis of the successful field trial, Evofuel expects to commercialize its castor seeds in 2016, following advanced product development and pre-commercial trials which are targeted to begin next year.

Evogene and SLC Agricole plan to develop castor seed as a rotation crop with soybean, with the castor seed sowed after the soybeans are harvested. Being grown during a period in which rainfall levels are typically not sufficient to cultivate other crops, castor production under this model does not compete with the production of staple crops, and provides farmers with a high value crop offering an additional revenue source.

The proof of concept stage was successful, despite 50% below average rainfall in two of the three years of the field trial said, Evofuel general manager Assaf Oron. “Despite these challenging conditions, we were able to achieve the required yield performance, positioning our castor varieties as an attractive and scalable crop, especially for rotation in areas where the soybean counter season leaves local farmers with limited cultivation options."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 16, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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