Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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74 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 Purple-flowered cuphea plant. Photo by Keith Weller, USDA Agricultural Research Service (K8681-2) note that cuphea seed oil contains a chemi- cally tantalizing array of short- and medium- chain carbon fatty acids. Two of these, cap- ric acid and lauric acid, are in high demand for use in surfactants, detergents, lubricants, personal care products and food applications. e two fatty acids constitute 80% of cuphea oil, compared to about 50% for imported sources, like coconut oil. Looking to broaden cuphea's end uses, the chemists and their colleagues adapted a process for converting the oil's fatty acids into 2-undecanone, a repellent compound originally discovered by other researchers in wild tomato plants. In preliminary trials, 2-undecanone worked as well as or better than DEET. e compound is also used in perfumes, imparting a fruity, floral aroma to them. e ARS researchers patented the conver - sion process, which uses a reaction known as "ketonization." Knowing of cuphea oil's unique fatty acid composition, "We were cu- rious about doing a ketonization reaction on that oil," Jackson says. In trials, the process converted much of the oil's capric and lauric acid into 2-un- decanone and another member of the ketone family, 2-tridecanone. "We didn't know what these two ketones were used for until we re- searched the existing literature and learned of their insect repellency," Jackson says. ey also learned that 2-undecanone, the more valuable of the two ketones, is currently synthesized for its various uses, but there is no bio-based way of making it. eir ap- proach, however, could offer a bio-based pro- duction method that converts about 80% of cuphea oil's fatty acids into 2-undecanone, with water as a byproduct. On the field scale, the researchers esti- mate, this new method could produce 54 pounds of 2-undecanone from 98 pounds of cuphea seed — or 1,500 bottles of insect repellent product if used at a concentration of 7%. e researchers welcome industry col- laboration to fully explore the commercial potential of their bio-based method of mak- ing 2-undecanone, whether for safeguarding our skin from bug bites or even dabbing on a touch of perfume. Jan Suszkiw is a public affairs specialist for the Agricul- tural Research Service Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Beltsville, Md.

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