Plant Oils Used for Bio-diesel
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A variety of biolipids (Biolipds are lipids from biological sources. Lipids are a class of organic compounds essential for the structure and function of living cells, fats are a subset of lipids, belonging to a subcategory of lipids called triglycerides) can be used to produce biodiesel. The main plants whose oils have been considered as feedstock for bio-fuel are: soybean oil, rapeseed oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil & jatropha oil. Others in the contention are mustard, hemp, castor oil, waste vegetable oil, and in some cases, even algae. There is ongoing research into finding more suitable crops and improving oil yield. (Biodiesel A Brief Overview From ATTRA provides a table of oil-bearing plants having potential for biodisel)
A complete list of oils that appear to have the potential for biodiesel is provided below ( in alphabetical order of the plant name)
See separate sections for each:
Algae Oil, Artichoke Oil, Canola Oil, Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Corn, Cottonseed Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Hemp Oil, Jatropha Oil, Jojoba Oil, Karanj Oil, Kukui Nut Oil, Milk Bush, Pencil Bush Oil, Mustard Oil, Neem Oil, Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Peanut Oil, Radish Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Safflower Oil, Sesame Oil, Soybean Oil,Sunflower Oil, Tung Oil,
Algae as Bio-diesel
The production of algae to harvest oil for biodiesel has not been undertaken on a commercial scale, but working feasibility studies have been conducted to arrive at the above yield estimate. In addition to a high yield, this solution does not compete with agriculture for food, requiring neither farmland nor fresh water.
Artichoke & Biodiesel
Artichoke has been only mainly as a forage crop for many years, but in recent years new applications have been discovered. The seeds of the artichoke plant can be used to obtain edible oil, while paper and pulp can be obtained from the stalks.
Artichoke oil is similar to the oils from sunflower and safflower in its composition. The approximate oil composition is as follows: 60% linoleic, 25% oleic, 12% palmitic and 3% stearic acid. While experiments are still on for this crop, initial experiments and analysis appear to show that this crop has potential for producing biodiesel.
Canola Oil as Bio-diesel
Canola is a cultivated variety of rapesee, and canola oilseeds are rich in oil content ( 40%). The interest in canola oil as feedstock for biodiesel appears to be gaining ground. A small group of farmers in Australia have started producing biodiesel from canola oil for local use, and a company in North Dakota (USA) in investing significantly to produce biodiesel using canola oil.
Castor Oil as Bio-diesel
Castor oil has quite a few characteristics that can make it a suitable candidate for biodiesel. One aspect that could queer the pitch for castor oil is its viscosity. Castor oil in its straight vegetable oil form is about 100 times as viscous as diesel fuel, and while trans-esterification does reduce the viscosity significantly, it is still being researched whether the final viscosity for castor oil biodiesel is within acceptable limits for use in diesel engines.
Coconut Oil as Biodiesel
Coconut has an oil content of about 70%, and has a yield of about 2500 liters per hectare. The Cetane Number (60) and Iodine Value (10) of coconut oil/copra oil are within acceptable limits for use in diesel engines. Its viscosity after trans-esterification is also in the acceptable range. It thus appears to be a good candidate for biodiesel.
Did you know? Coconut oil is one of the least viscous of plant oils
· Possibility of Using Coconut Oil as Fuel Substitute for Diesel Engines (Microsoft PPT Format)
Corn Oil as Bio-diesel
There is a significant interest, especially in the United States, to experiment with corn oil as the feedstock for biodiesel. Till a few years ago, corn was not favoured as a feedstock because the extraction process was not suitable to produce a grade of oil that was suitable enough for producing biodiesel. However newer extraction processes have overcome this problem.
Cottonseed Oil as Biodiesel
Cottonseed oil has energy per unit volume than diesel fuel. This means that more than one gallon of cotton seed oil will be required to replace one gallon of petro-diesel. The current production volumes are quite low ( 0.5 million T per annum in the US) when compared with even reasonable requirements of biodiesel.
Flax Oil as Biodiesel
· The oil from linseed/flax plant can also be considered for biodiesel. Research is ongoing in this area.
Hemp Oil as Bio-diesel
Jatropha Oil as Bio-diesel
Through Jatropha is not as well-known a biodiesel feedstock as is palm oil or soy oil, in India and southeast Asia, the Jatropha tree has been used as a significant fuel source for many years, though use of its oil for biodiesel is quite recent. In these regions, it is also planted for watershed protection and other environmental restoration efforts. Jatropha is a perennial, yielding oil seed for decades after planting. The tree can grow without irrigation in arid conditions where many other biodiesel candidates such as corn and sugar cane could never thrive. Another useful feature of Jatropha is its oil yield the yield is significantly higher than the yields of many other candidates.
· Case Study for Jatropha (PDF)
Jojoba Oil as Biodiesel
While Jojoba is a new entrant in the biodiesel stakes, it has an attraction the jojoba plant can be grown in saline soils, and in desert lands. There are reports that some farmers in Egypt have started cultivating jojoba for the oil to be used as fuel. However, with current inputs and data, it appears that this plant is unlikely to make a significant impact on the overall biodiesel scenario, given the small amounts of cultivation.
Karanj Plant (Pongamia pinnata) as Biodiesel
Karanj, a plant native to India, appears to have good potential for biodiesel. Considered less exotic than Jatropha, there
is a good chance that its oil is cheaper as well. However, only recently has this plant come into the research arena for
biodiesel, and more inputs are awaited.
Kukui Nut Oil as Biodiesel
While it is possible to have the oil from Kukui Nut tree as a biodiesel, it is unlikely that it is a serious candidate since this is not a mainstream crop, and its high price will be a deterrent to its use as fuel
Milk Bush/Pencil Bush (Euphorbia tirucalli) as Biodiesel
The Pencil Bush shrub can grow in arid as well as more mesophytic zones. A large shrub, Euphorbia tirucalli, is used
as a hedge in Brazil. The ability of these plants to grow well in dry regions and on land that are not suitable for growing
food, and the fact that the oil yield from an acre could be comparable to or better than many other biodiesel candidates (
an estimate of oil yield for milk bush/pencil bush is between 10 and 50 barrels of oil per acre, ie., between 25 and 125
barrels per hectare )
Specially bred mustard varieties can produce reasonably high oil yields, and have the added benefit that the meal leftover after the oil has been pressed out can act as an effective and biodegradable pesticide.
Did you know? Palm oil is a prominent biodiesel feedstock in Malaysia
Neem Oil as Biodiesel
While it has not yet been produced on a commercial scale, neem oil is being considered for biodiesel, and more research is being done in this area.
Biodiesel from Olive Oil
It has been proven that Olive Oil can produce biodiesel, however, it is unlikely that this crop will be a sustainable
candidate for biodiesel, given the opportunity costs of the use of its oil in other segments, and the cost. One interesting area has been the use of waste olive oil for biodiesel production.
Palm Oil as Bio-diesel
Malaysia and Indonesia are starting pilot-scale production from palm oil. Palm oil so far proved to be efficient as biodiesel.
Did you know? Rudolf Diesel ran his first IC engines on peanut oil
Peanut Oil as Biodiesel
History tells us that Rudolf Diesel ran his first diesel engine on peanut oil. Even later, during times of fuel shortages, cars and trucks were successfully run on preheated peanut oil. Currently however, peanut oil is used relatively less (when compared to sunflower oil, palm oil or soybean oil) for biodiesel production. One major reason could be the cost.
Radish Oil as Bio-diesel
Wild radish can contain up to 48% oil and its oil is unsuitable for human consumption. This could hence make an interesting biodiesel candidate. Wild radish has adapted itself to be a very resilient weed and possesses a hardy nature with good drought tolerance. However, it is unlikely to become a mainstream biodiesel feedstock.
Did you know? Rapeseed oil is a prominent biodiesel feedstock in Europe
Rapeseed Oil as Bio-diesel
Rapeseed oil is one of the more prominent oils used for biodiesel preparation. In Europe, rapeseed is the most common base oil used in biodiesel production.
Rice Bran Oil as Bio-diesel
Rice bran oil is a non-conventional, inexpensive and low-grade vegetable oil. Crude rice bran oil is also source of high value added by-products. Thus, if the by-products are derived from the crude rice bran oil and the resultant oil is used as a feedstock for biodiesel, the resulting biodiesel could be quite economical and affordable.
Safflower Oil as Bio-diesel
Quite a number of entities in the United States are experimenting with Safflower oil as biodiesel stock, and there is a opinion among some that safflower oil will make a better candidate than canola oil, which is a relatively more popular feedstock for biodiesel. However, the fact that it is a useful edible oil ( as is canola oil) throws serious doubts about its potential for large scale biodiesel production
Soybean Oil as Bio-diesel
Soybeans are not a very efficient crop solely for the production of biodiesel, but their common use in the United States for food products has led to soybean biodiesel becoming the primary source for biodiesel in that country. Soybean producers have lobbied to increase awareness of soybean biodiesel, expanding the market for their product.
Sunflower Oil as Bio-diesel
Sunflower oil is being tested in quite a few places worldwide for its biodiesel capability. While the chemical properties of the oil lend themselves well for biodiesel manufacture, the high cost of sunflower oil casts doubts on whether it can ever be a significant feedstock for biodiesel production.
Tung Oil as Biodiesel
Research on the use of tung oil for biodiesel is in its initial stages, and more research results and inputs are awaited.
Waste Vegetable Oil as Biodiesel
· Local & Innovative Biodiesel New Feedstock Blending Recipes (PDF) ( see also this (pdf))