This year BAJONI is down to 2 members. Bain and I are screening the B. ademptus (a bean weevil specific to kudzu seeds) and fungus isolated from the outside of the kudzu seeds for the presence of lipases and proteases. Lipases are enzymes that break down oil and proteases are enzymes that break down proteins. If the fungus or bean weevils test positive for lipases, proteases, or both, then they could later be used in enzymatic oil extraction and produce better, more efficient oil to be used as a biodiesel.
After spending weeks de-podding our abundance of harvest kudzu seeds, we recently finished running 2000 kudzu seeds mixed with hexane through the rotary evaporator. The rotary evaporator separates the hexane from the kudzu oil. We also ran a test trial using some of our ground up soybeans. The 2000 kudzu seeds produced 0.09 grams of oil.
My group (including Bain Brown and John Nguyen)’s project is determining the feasibility of using seed oil from kudzu as a potential for biodiesel. Kudzu seeds are normally mature and ready to harvest at around mid-October, meaning we’ll need to start harvesting soon. There is a possibility that the kudzu vines at the school near the football field won’t have enough seeds to extract enough oil, and that we may need another source, but we’ll soon find out!