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.
I have grafted soybeans to Kudzu and peas to Kudzu. I used a razor blade to make a flat cut on both scion and rootstock. I clipped the scion and rootstock together with a grafting clip and secured it with a straw.
The peas just died and did not fuse to the rootstock. However, the soybeans wilted but fused with the rootstock. I thought it might have been because the grafting clips are too tight and choked the scion. I grafted again yesterday and sure enough, the soybean top section (scion) has grafted to kudzu, but the clip crushed the scion right above the graft union. Try, try again!
As our (Bain Brown, John Nguyen and Nicole Rideout’s) project is getting started we have decided to do a little bit of practice. The best part you ask? The rotary evaporator!
So, what is a rotary evaprator, well the Rot. Evap. is the the machine that seperates a mixture into its parts (in our case, hexane and the oil). It works by creating a vacuum, bringing the mixture to a temperature where the desired substance will evaporate, and then condensing and collecting the evaporated liquid in a different flask. This leaving the mixture separated in 2 different flasks. See diagram below
Why is it exciting? It shows progress! Finally being able to see our oil left in a round bottom flask is a major confidence booster. Our project finally feels like it is going somewhere! We will eventually be using the Rot. Evap. to separate the kudzu oil form the solvent (hexane), but for now we are only using it to practice. Check out the video to see it in “action. Video of Rotary Evaporator
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!