Biotech Updates

Vietnamese Scientists Extract Biodiesel from Sesame

May 2, 2008

Sesame, the familiar source of edible oil in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine is also being developed to be a potential source of biodiesel. Sesame belongs to the Euphorbiacea family and is widely distributed in Africa, North America and the Caribbean. This perennial tree can grow up to 5 meters high and blossoms all the year round, especially in the rainy season. Oil is extracted from its seeds (containing 31-37% oil). The tree can be grown by seeds or raised from branches and it develops well in areas 500 meters above sea level. In Vietnam, wild sesame trees live in sandy areas in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and dry areas in Ninh Thuan province.

Recently, experts from the Tropical Biology Institute have successfully extracted bio-diesel from seeds of wild sesame trees. Dr. Thai Xuan Du from the Institute’s Cell Technology Department said that oil extraction can be performed easily using local technology and equipment. As sources of petroleum are becoming scarce, bio-diesel extracted from wild sesame may be an alternative. Moreover, waste from the extraction process provides material to produce organic fertilizer and pesticides. Scientists have suggested that this wild tree be planted on bare or dry land to protect the environment and create materials for oil extraction.

The original Vietnamese version of this news is at or contact Hien Le of Agbiotech Vietnam at for more information.