After countless weeks of dehulling kudzu pods to get enough seeds, the time has finally come to extract the oil (Our goal is to extract oil from kudzu seeds and produce biodiesel from it, we will then determine the feasibility of using this biodiesel). We attempted to use a Burr Coffee hand grinder to grind the seeds but spent the majority of time having difficulties with the grinder and ended up using an electrical grinder instead. After the grinding process was completed, we ultrasonicated the ground up seeds with hexane (a chemical: it’s pretty dangerous) to release the oils. The rotary evaporator was used (a fancy device that evaporates the hexane from the oil, so you’re left with just oil). We came back to the wonderful sight of kudzu oil! .09 grams of translucent green beauty. We plan to extract the oil that is left in our ground seeds in the future.
Our group, BAJONI (BAin, JOhn, NIcole), is working on a practice solvent extraction trial on soybeans in preparation for the kudzu solvent oil extraction. Kudzu as you may have encountered on multiple occasions, is an invasive plant native to Asia. It was introduced to the US in 1876 at the Phillidalphia Centennial Exposition. Farmers were then encouraged to plant this vine from the 1935s to mid-1950s to stop soil erosion. Kudzu is now found in 30 states in the US and is causing environmental conflicts. Instead of trying to get rid of this vine, we are finding a way to take advantage of its vigorous growth rate. We are currently working out methods to extract oil from kudzu seeds. The oil will be turned into biodiesel. We will then determine the feasibility of using kudzu seed oil as a source of biodiesel.