As global petroleum resources decline and the cost of imported oil escalates, agriculture producers around the world have been researching and testing food and non-food biofuels as an alternative to meet the growing demand for energy.

Biodiesel is experiencing a historic surge worldwide and a rapid expansion in production capacity is being observed not only in developed countries such as Germany, Italy, France, and the United States but also in developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Indonesia. Interest in and expansion of renewable fuel production has been fostered by mandates and financial incentives offered by governments, like the Obama Administration’s Renewable Fuels Standard requiring the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.

The push for biofuels got its big start with President Bush's plan for biofuels from crops in 2007, and ethanol is now big business. By 2009 just over 25 percent of U.S. grain crops was being used to create ethanol for cars. But while the idea of crops-for-fuel is not new, research and experience is slowing interest in ethanol produced from corn, sorghum, sugarcane, and other traditional food and non-food crops as more attention is being focused on oilseed as a better, lower-cost alternative that uses less land traditionally dedicated to food crops.

Recognizing the need to limit acres for biofuel and a desire to lower the cost of biofuel production and increase yields, potential growers have been taking at look at alternative oilseed crops including sunflower, canola, flax, soybean, castor and camelina. In India and Australia, a legume, Pongamiapinnata, a tree that produces seeds containing 30 to 40 percent oil, is becoming a popular oilseed choice for biofuel production and has captured the attention of U.S. growers.