Michigan State University
Two Crambe abyssinica varieties have been cultivated for four years (1990-1993) in the Po valley (Italy), with a spring-time sowing. The seed was analysed for its main quality characteristics, showing an interesting oil (ca. 35%) and protein (26%) content with very homogeneous results in all the trial years. The oil was extracted and characterized determining the fatty acid composition (erucic acid more than 56%), some components of its unsaponifiable matter (sterols and aliphatic alcohols) and its main physical properties (smoke point, saponification number, viscosity). In addition, also studied were the heat removal rates of crambe oil as compared to two commercial mineral oils and to a mixture 1:1 of crambe oil and mineral oil. The results confirm the potential interest of crambe oil in some niches of the lubricating, emulsifying and refrigerating fields. These uses could become still more interesting if one considers the possibility to increase its erucic acid content by biotechnology. Finally, the meal composition, the qualitative and quantitative glucosinolates content, the quality of the hull fiber were also determined and evaluated. The results of this study suggest interesting perspectives in different non-food fields. © 1994.