Terpene, a hydrocarbon, can be converted in sufficient quantities into a biofuel, specifically jet fuel. Leading this multi-partner effort is Jerry Tuskan, who is deciphering the genetic basis and structural features of oil gland formation in the plants.
Researchers initially started with 15 species and will select the best candidates based on oil glands’ ultrastructure, number of oil glands per centimeter and terpene content and chemistry. Annual harvests of the foliar portion of eucalyptus will maximize the return on investment and increase potential energy production, according to Tuskan. Other advantages of annual harvests include expanded plant adaptability and improved land management options for marginal agricultural lands.