REHOVOT, Israel -- Evogene Ltd.announced the results of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of biodiesel produced from castor bean varieties being developed by the company. The assessment shows that such biodiesel reduces Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions by 90% compared to petroleum diesel in the U.S. The results are based on Evogene's objectives for castor bean varieties, aimed at increasing crop yields to 4-5 ton/ha on semi-arid lands -- at present focusing on Texas and Brazil -- and therefore providing the additional benefit of not competing with food use of arable land.

The LCA was conducted by Symbiotic Engineering, a company specializing in GHG and sustainability management and providing tools to evaluate 'green' projects and products, and was peer-reviewed by Dr. Arunprakash Karunanithi from the University of Colorado, Denver.

"The results of the LCA strengthen our belief in castor bean as a viable and sustainable second-generation feedstock for biofuel production. Based on our project objectives, the castor bean varieties we are developing have a potential to address the immediate need for sustainable, widely available and cost efficient solutions for the biofuel industry," stated Assaf Oron, Evogene's EVP strategy and business development. "We are keen to pursue the needs of the biofuel industry through castor bean breeding and evaluation of our varieties in field trials, recently established in Texas and Brazil."

The assessment evaluates the environmental impact of biodiesel produced from the castor bean varieties being developed by Evogene as compared to conventional petroleum diesel and biodiesel originating from soybean.

Results show that Evogene's castor bean biodiesel production and use

  • Reduces net GHG emissions by 90% in the U.S. and more than 75% in Brazil compared with conventional diesel, if grown in non-arable marginal land.
  • Exceeds the GHG savings achieved with soybean biodiesel, with reductions for the U.S. of 43% compared to soybean.

Castor Bean (ricinus communis) is a non-edible crop with naturally high oil content in its seeds and its growth requires relatively low inputs. As previously disclosed, Evogene is focusing on development of high yielding castor bean varieties, suitable for cost-efficient growth on non-arable lands in southern U.S. and northeastern Brazil, using fully mechanized production. The economic target for Evogene is to be price competitive without government subsidies at an oil price equivalent to $45 per barrel.

SOURCE: Evogene.