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The scientiffic name for field pennycress is thlaspi arvense. The plant grows wild in North America where it is commonly considered a weed. It belongs to the Brassicaceae (a.k.a. mustard) family. It flowers and produces a very small seed, which is rich in oil. Pennycress biodiesel is made in a similar fashion to all other biodiesel. The main difference of course being that pennycress biodiesel is made with pennycress oil, not edible vegtable oil or animal fat.

Once the oil is harvested from the pennycress, it is combined with an alcohol such as methanol (or ethanol) and a catalyst. A chemical reaction occurs creating a methyl esther (fancy name for biodiesel) and a co-product called glycerine. The glycerine is separated from the biodiesel and any residual alcohol is recovered from a distillation process and used again. The glycerine can be used for many things such as lotions and cosmetics.