Kudzu covers over 7,400,000 acres in the southeastern United States. It is covering most of our state, and national forests, and its destroying wanted vegetation. Because of this problem, we need to get rid of Kudzu.
Our project is to test the levels of E-2- Hexenal of different ages of the kudzu and also test the preferences between kudzu and soybeans of the Megacopta Cribraria (kudzu bug). We think that the bug will be more attracted to the older kudzu and the older soybeans.
By testing the amounts of E-2- Hexenalwe hope to reduce the amount of E-2 hexenal in the soybeans over all to make the bugs less attracted to them. This will save farmers money, so they do not lose as many crops. Forgetting rid of the Kudzu we hope to increaselevels of E-2- Hexenal so they will be more attracted to it and decrease the amount of kudzu in the US.
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.
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
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.
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!