Article

BioEnergy Research

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 778-800

A Common View of the Opportunities, Challenges, and Research Actions for Pongamia in Australia

  • Helen T. MurphyAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research Centre Email author 
  • , Deborah A. O’ConnellAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Gary SeatonAffiliated withBioenergy Plantations Australia
  • , R. John RaisonAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Luis C. RodriguezAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Andrew L. BraidAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Darren J. KriticosAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Tom JovanovicAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • , Amir AbadiAffiliated withCRC Future Farm Industries, University of Western Australia
    • , Michael BetarAffiliated withStandard Commodities Group
    • , Heather BrodieAffiliated withBiofuels Association of Australia
    • , Malcolm LamontAffiliated withPolyGenomX Ltd
    • , Marshall McKayAffiliated withAustralian PhytoFuel Company
    • , George MuirheadAffiliated withBioenergy Plantations Australia
    • , Julie PlummerAffiliated withPlant Biology, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, University of Western Australia
    • , Ni Luh ArpiwiAffiliated withPlant Biology, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, University of Western Australia
    • , Brian RuddleAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreRudco Pty Ltd
    • , Sagun SaxenaAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreCleanStar Ventures
    • , Paul T. ScottAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research, University of Queensland
    • , Colin StucleyAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreEnecon Pty Ltd
    • , Bob ThistlethwaiteAffiliated withPolyGenomX Ltd
    • , Bradley WheatonAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreCleanStar Ventures
    • , Peter WylieAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreOrigin Energy
    • , Peter M. GresshoffAffiliated withCSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical Forest Research CentreARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research, University of Queensland

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Abstract

Interest in biofuels is increasing in Australia due to volatile and rising oil prices, the need to reduce GHG emissions, and the recent introduction of a price on carbon. The seeds of Pongamia (Millettia pinnata) contain oils rich in C18:1 fatty acid, making it useful for the manufacture of biodiesel and other liquid fuels. Preliminary assessments of growth and seed yield in Australia have been promising. However, there is a pressing need to synthesise practical experience and existing fragmented research and to use this to underpin a well-founded and co-ordinated research strategy to support industry development, including better management of the risks associated with investment. This comprehensive review identifies opportunities for Pongamia in Australia and provides a snapshot of what is already known and the risks, uncertainties, and challenges based on published research, expert knowledge, and industry experience. We conclude that whilst there are major gaps in fundamental understanding of the limitations to growth of Pongamia in Australia, there is sufficient evidence indicating the potential of Pongamia as a feedstock for production of biofuel to warrant investment into a structured research and development program over the next decade. We identify ten critical research elements and propose a comprehensive research approach that links molecular level genetic research, paddock scale agronomic studies, landscape scale investigations, and new production systems and value chains into a range of aspects of sustainability.

Keywords

Oil seed Pongamia Millettia Karanja Yield Growth