Recently (Science 194:46. 1976) Nobel Laureate Melvin Calvin has suggested that the mole plant could be the "petroleum plant", producing a hydrocarbon substance very much like gasoline. Calvin states that the hydrocarbon produced by the plant could probably be used directly in existing refineries, after it had been separated from the water.


His estimates of 10 to 50 barrels of oil per acre per year seem optimistic as do his cost estimates of $3–10 per barrel. If these estimates prove to be correct, however, the petroleum plant would have virtues to outweigh its poisonous and weed properties. Assuming 50 barrels of oil per acre per year at a cost of $10 per barrel, a $15.00 sale price yields only $250 profit per acre.