Plant Oils Used for Bio-diesel


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Plant Oils Used for Bio-diesel 








Did you know? Even the humble algae could be used to make biodiesel




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,

WVO, Waste Vegetable 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.


·         Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae – University of North Hampshire

·         Algae – Like a Breath Mint for Smokestacks – Christian Science Monitor

·         Biodiesel from Algae – from Biodiesel Encyclopedia



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.


·         Cynara Cardunculus as an Alternative Crop for Biodiesel Production (MS Word Document)

·         Feeding Ourselves or Driving Our Cars – the Tale of the Humble Artichoke – from Transition Culture



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.


·         Biodiesel from Canola Oil – University of Ballarat, Australia

·         NDSU to Test Properties of Canola-based Biodiesel

·         Canola Biodiesel – from

·         Bioenergy Biodiesel from Canola Oil (PDF)



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.


·         Castor Oil as Bio-diesel & Biofuel – from

·         Energy in a Castor Bean – from Tierramerica



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)

·         Coconut Methyl Ester as Coco Biodiesel

·         Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Coconut Biofuel (PDF)

·         Coconut Oil as a Biofuel in Pacific Islands – Challenges & Opportunities

·         Biofuel Energy from the Coconut – Copra Biodiesel (PDF)



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.


·         Mean Green Biofuels Convertts Corn Oil into Biodiesel – Oil & Gas Online

·         Corn Oil Extractor Hits Market – from Argus Leader



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.


·         Economic Circumstances of Cottonseed Oil as Biodiesel (PDF)



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


·         Hemp Farm Bio-diesel Information

·         Pollution - Petrol vs. Hemp – from









Did you know? Jatropha oil is a popular biodiesel candidate in parts of Asia




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.


·         Biofuel for Electricity in Remote Lao Villages - from Sunlabob (PDF)

·         Jatropha, a Different Biofuel, from Pratie Place

·         Oil from a Wasteland – the Jatropha Project in India – from Daimler Chryser

·         Bio-diesel from Wastelands - NABARD

·         Case Study for Jatropha (PDF)

·         Biodiesel from Jatropha Plantations on Eroded Soils (PDF)

·         Jatropha & Moringa – Sources of Renewable Energy & Fuel

·         Jatropha Biodiesel .org

Jatropha in Africa – Enviro Pundit

Combating Ddesertification – The Jatropha Project of Mali, West Africa

The Bumpy Road to Clean, Green Fuel - SciDev

The Jatropha Opportunity for India



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.


·         Jojoba Fuel – from Tree Hugger

·         Jojoba Oil Could Fuel Cars & Trucks – New Scientist

·         Economics of Jatropha Biodiesel

·         New Fuel Derived from Jojoba Oil Could Fuel Cars (PDF)

·         Jojoba Oil a Better Fuel than Diesel



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.


·         Why Karanj is Better than Jatropha?

·         Jatropha vs. Karanj – Biodiesel Now

·         Biodiesel Project in India Based on Karanja



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


·         Student Makes Fuel from Kukui Nuts



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 )


·         Euphorbia tirucalli from Purdue University

·         Bio-engineering of Crops for Biofuel & Bio-energy (PDF)



Mustard Oil


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.


·         Bio-diesel from Yellow Mustard Oil – University of Idaho

·         Mustard Hybrids for Low-cost Biodiesel (PDF)

·         Biodiesel Cost Issues – from Oregon Biofuels

·         Industrial Mustard Crops for Biodiesel & Biopesticides (PDF)

·         Experiments with Biodiesel from Yellow Mustard




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 – Fuel for Future



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.


·         Simulating Biodiesel Production from Waste Olive Oil

·         Chancellor College Biodiesel Research & 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.


·         Palm Oil Biodiesel from

·         Consultant Says Palm Oil Biodiesel has More Potential – from New Energy Report

·         Malaysia to Switch to Palm Oil Bio-diesel – from Happy News

·         Palm Oil Biodiesel has More Potential for Longevity?




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.


·         History of Biofuels – from Yokayo Biofuels



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.


·         Biodiesel – Farming for the Future




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.


·         Rapeseed Bio-diesel from

·         The Power of Rapeseed – from Deutsche Welle, Germany

·         Rapeseed Methyl Ester – from BioMatNet

·         Development of Rapeseed Bio-diesel for Use in High-speed Diesel Engines – from (PDF)

·         Biodiesel Experiences in Yugoslavia – from (PDF)

·         Biodiesel Production Potential from Industrial Rapeseed (PDF)

·         Economic Evaluation of Biodiesel Production from Oilseed Rape (PDF)

·         Blooming Futures – Fuelling Vehicles with Plant Oils New



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.


·         Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters from Rice Bran Oil (PDF)

·         Acid Catalyzed Trans-esterification of Rice Bran Oil for Bio-diesel Production (PDF)



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


·         Safflower Oil in your Tank – from Clean City News


Sesame Oil as Bio-diesel



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.


·         Fuelling Diesel Engines with Blends of Methyl Ester Soybean Oil & Diesel Fuel – University of Missouri (PDF)

·         Soybean Oil in Jet Fuels – from USDA

·         Transesterification of Soybean Oil with Zeolite & Metal Catalysts (PDF)

·         Oxidative Stability of Biodiesel from Soybean Oil



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.


·         Sunflower Crop Feasibility for Bio-diesel Production in Spain – from



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.


·         Details of Fuels – Greenhouse, Australia (PDF)



Waste Vegetable Oil as Biodiesel


·         On-farm Biodiesel Production from Waste Vegetable Oil (PDF)





·         Local & Innovative Biodiesel – New Feedstock Blending Recipes (PDF) ( see also this (pdf))

·         Blooming Futures – Fuelling Vehicles with Plant Oils New





Other References


Some interesting sites:



  • Plant Oils Database – provides resources and links for over 200 different plant oils and related plant extracts


  • BDPedia – The Biodiesel WWW Encyclopedia


Agriculture Directories, the Biodiesel WWW Encyclopedia, provides links, provides directory and web links resources for the biofuels, biodiesel. It is intended to be useful for research and information as well as for buyers, sellers, manufacturers, traders, suppliers, producers, exporters and importers. It will make an effort to provide biofuel feedstock, plant oil feedstocks, vegetable oil info and link, details on oilseeds, bio-fuel, bio-diesel, bio-fuels, plant oils production and uses, and biofuels trade & market resources, data, statistics such as price, prices, demand-supply for buyer, seller, manufacturer, trader, supplier, exporter and producer


Geo Reference


GeoDig – Get Local!


Have you checked out the GeoDig directories for over 30 countries? GeoDig provides useful local and regional web resources for over 200 cities around the world. See the list of cities and countries for which GeoDig provides locality-specific web resources.


North America

USA - Alabama (AL) > Birmingham; Alaska; Arkansas (AR) > Little Rock; Arizona (AZ) > Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson; California (CA) > Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield; Colorado, CO > Denver; Connecticut, CT > Hartford; District of Columbia, DC > Washington DC; Delaware (DE) > Wilmington; Florida > Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville; Georgia > Atlanta; Hawaii > Honolulu; Idaho; Illinois > Chicago; Indiana > Indianapolis; Iowa; Kansas (KS); Kentucky (KY) > Louisville; Louisiana (LA) > New Orleans, Baton Rouge; Maine; Maryland (MD) > Baltimore; Massachusetts > Boston, Springfield; Michigan > Detroit, Grand Rapids; Minnesota > Minneapolis-St. Paul; Mississippi (MS); Missouri (MO) > Kansas City, St. Louis; Montana; Nebraska (NE) > Omaha; Nevada (NV) > Las Vegas; New Hampshire; New Jersey (NJ) > Jersey City, Newark; New Mexico (NM) > Albuquerque; New York > New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Syracuse; North Carolina (NC) > Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro; North Dakota; Ohio> Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton; Oklahoma (OK) > Oklahoma City, Tulsa; Oregon > Portland; Pennsylvania > Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, ; Rhode Island (RI) > Providence; South Carolina (SC) > Greenville; South Dakota; Tennessee (TN) > Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville; Texas > Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Austin, McAllen; Utah (UT) > Salt Lake City; Vermont; Virginia (VA) > Norfolk, Richmond; Washington > Seattle; West Virginia; Wisconsin (WI) > Milwaukee; Wyoming

Canada - Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa-Gatineau, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London


Europe - UK - London, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leicester; France - Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Bordeaux; Germany - Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main), Munich (München), Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne (Köln), Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Bremen, Duisburg, Hannover, Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Dresden, Leipzig; Italy - Milan (Milano), Rome (Roma), Napoli (Naples), Torino (Turin), Palermo, Bologna, Firenze (Florence), Genova (Genoa); Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Malaga, Murcia, Las Palmas, Bilbao; Scandinavia - Finland - Helsinki (Helsingin), Espoo, Tampere (Tampereen), Vantaa, Turku, Oulu, Sweden - Stockholm, Goteborg (Göteborg), Malmo (Malmö), Uppsala, Vasteras (Västerås), Denmark - Copenhagen (Københavns), Aarhus (Århus), Odense, Aalborg (Ålborg), Norway - Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim; Benelux - Belgium - Brussels (Brussel), Antwerp (Antwerpen), Ghent (Gent, Gand), Charleroi, Liège (Liege), Netherlands - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Tilburg, ‘s-Gravenhage (sGravenhage), Groningen, Luxembourg - Luxembourg City; PortugalLisbon; GreeceAthens; HungaryBudapest; PolandWarsaw; Switzerland - Zürich (Zurich), Geneva (Geneve, Genève), Basel, Bern (Berne), Lausanne; Austria - Linz, Vienna (Wien), Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck; IrelandDublin


Asia - India - Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore; China & Hong Kong - Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Harbin, Xian; Japan - Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka, Kawasaki, Hiroshima; South Korea - Seoul, Pusa, Taegu, Incheon, Taejeon, Taiwan - Taipei; Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur; Singapore; Russia - Moscow, St Petersburg


Middle East - Turkey - Istanbul, Israel - Tel Aviv


Oceania - Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide


Africa - South Africa - Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban – The Biodiesel WWW Encyclopedia