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Image of oil in clear glass bottle

New crops for bio-based lubricants

Velcourt is a leading provider of farm business management and advisory services, with almost fifty years’ experience. Now they are collaborating with researchers and plant breeders to establish the commercial feasibility of a new type of oilseed rape (OSR) for use as an industrial lubricant in a three-year project.

Could oilseed rape be a high-quality alternative to oil-based lubricant?

The partners will combine their expertise in seed multiplication and agronomic field trials (Velcourt); genomic research and fast-track plant breeding (University of York); process and market development (BDC); and plant breeding and seed supply (Limagrain) in an effort to commercialise the new variety by 2019.

If successful, this new type of OSR will not only provide a high-quality renewable alternative to the current mineral oil-based products, but will also offer the advantage of having low toxicity and being biodegradable.

The global lubricant market is worth $44Bn, however only 4.5% of the market is formed by bio-based products. The OSR we are investigating is hugely exciting not only because it is food grade and less harmful to the environment, but also because it is thermally-stable. Keith Norman, Technical Director, Velcourt

Currently, the BDC is crushing and processing the oilseed rape to produce the novel oil, as well as engaging with the lubricant industry to assess performance requirements. To date, the BDC has carried out lab trials for a number of base oil formulators and additive suppliers to benchmark the ‘biolube’ against industry samples – with signs of high performance for the novel oil.

Funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (102296), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/M028534/1), the project will run until 2019 and test the commercialisation potential of the OSR type