The Spanish scientific research organisation Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas has been awarded a US patents for its process creating sunflower seeds and oils with a high stearic acid content.
The sunflower seeds are treated with a mutagenic agent which induces one or more mutations in the genetic makeup of the seeds involved in stearic acid biosynthesis, in turn resulting in an increased production of stearic acid.
The seeds are then germinated and the seeds produced by the resulting plants are selected for high stearic acid content. The process can then be carried out again to obtain an even higher concentration.
The patent application said that the seeds best suited for the process should have an oil with stearic acid content of between 19.1 and 35 per cent by weight related to the total amount of fatty acids in the oil. These seeds can be obtained by treating the parent seeds with an alkylating agent, such as ethyl methane sulfonate in water, or with sodium azide in water.
The patent also covers the process of extracting oil from the seeds with high stearic acid content and the use of the oil in various products.