Folear is an Australian agricultural biotechnology company creating new crops for plant oil production. We turn leaves and stems into oil production factories to make oil in a new, highly efficient way.
We harness the power of the natural world to produce plant oil using Leaf Oil technology by switching on seed oil pathways in leaves and stems. This means that we can produce very high yields of plant oil in high biomass crops like sugarcane, sorghum, miscanthus, switchgrass and even our prototype plant tobacco. This greatly increases plant oil productivity and capacity, unlocking new market opportunities.
Around 185 million tonnes of plant oil are used globally each year for food and industrial purposes. Demand for plant oil is growing rapidly because of rising world population, increasing per capita food oil consumption, and accelerating demand for sustainable industrial feedstocks. We cannot easily meet this demand with existing crops.
Plant oil is usually produced only in the seeds of plants such as soybean, sunflower and canola, or the fruits of plants like oil palm. These seeds and fruits represent only a fraction of the plant’s biomass with the rest of the plant not directly used for oil accumulation. Leaf Oil technology switches on oil production and accumulation in the entire plant, significantly increasing productivity compared to conventional plant oil crops. The plant oil produced in the leafy biomass are normal triglyceride type oils, just like canola oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable oils.
Folear is greatly increasing energy density in plant biomass by switching on oil production in leaves. This is achieved by activating the plant’s oil synthesis and accumulation genes in the leaf. These genes are usually only active in seeds, and this results in the production of oil droplets in non-seed parts of the plant.
Folear plant oils are similar to normal vegetable oils; rich in C18 fatty acids and highly monounsaturated. They can be used in food/feed applications:
- Extracted vegetable oil for food and animal feed use
- Direct use of harvested plant matter as animal feed
Folear plant oils are also suitable for use in many industrial applications:
- Oleochemicals (paints, surfactants, detergents, lubricants, plastics)
- Biofuels (green diesel, biojet, biodiesel)
Folear plants have been trialed in Kentucky with help from our partners at KTRDC (University of Kentucky): Field trials that test gene performance and explore ways to further increase yield have occurred over the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons.
Leaf Oil technology has been demonstrated in a number of species including sorghum, sugarcane, tobacco and potato. The core concept is highly applicable across multiple species.
Benjamin Leita, PhD, is a chemical engineer with a passion for producing value added products from renewable resources. Ben’s involvement in the family farm business educated him on the importance of value adding to raw produce in order to maximize financial returns. He is an inventor on Leaf Oil technology patent and has extensive research and project management experience in the bio-products and bio-fuels arena. A recent example is a multi-million dollar project and development of bio-based PET bottles from eucalyptus oil, partnered with a large beverage company (patents WO2011006183A1 and WO2011066616A1).
Investors and Partners
More information about the CSIRO Leaf Oil patent portfolio, technology, and scientific team can be found at:
Folear is seeking supply chain partners and investors to help bring this technology to market. Feel free to contact us to find out how we can work together. (Contact us)
Interested in finding more about Folear, please contact us