From Phyto-Remediation to Phyto-Mining: A Means of Maximizing Value In Producing Bio-diesel From Pennycress

Principal Investigators

  • Dr. Mark Benvenuto
    University of Detroit Mercy

Co-Principal Investigators

  • Dr. Alexa Rihanna
    University of Detroit Mercy
  • Dr. Stokes Baker
    University of Detroit Mercy

Project Dates:

09/01/2010 to 06/30/2012

Project year: Year 1

MIOH-UTC Project Identifier: AF 42

Focus Area:

  • Research: Alternative Fuels


The researchers propose to use penny cress as both a feedstock for the production of bio-diesel and as a soil remediator for lead and other heavy metals.  It is further proposed that the plant matter in which the heavy metals is taken up be pyrolyzed, and the metals extracted from the ashed materials with strong, oxidizing acids.  This form of “phyto-mining” removes the metals from the plant remediators, and allows the metal to be captured as a usable, commercial product.  The ultimate aim of the project is to determine the feasibility of using penny cress on brown-field areas in Detroit, in order to determine whether or not such areas can be cleaned effectively, yet inexpensively.  The ultimate end result would be an inexpensive feedstock for bio-diesel, a biological method to clean polluted soil, a second, marketable product that would add value to the bio-diesel production enterprise, and cleaner, environmentally safer areas in Detroit.

Final Report:


Total Budget: $112,510


US DOT, UDM, The Power Alternative, Inc.