Unlike petroleum diesel fuels, biodiesel can be manufactured from a wide variety of natural oil sources. So what are the current global biodiesel feedstocks in use today? Globally, biodiesel fuel is predominantly mass-produced on a large scale from the vegetable oils obtained via agricultural crops (biodiesel is also manufacturing using used vegetable oil). Table#1 denotes the current global oil crops that are used in biodiesel production. This table provides important properties for each crop. Oil production refers to the amount of oil produced by each crop in liters per hectare and gallons per acre. I have also included information regarding where the crops are grown and what percentage share said crop contributes to worldwide biodiesel production. At the bottom of the post is a handy pie chart depicting global biodiesel feedstock utilization. In addition, I have provided a free download of this data in the form of a MS Excel Workbook. You will notice that different plants possess a higher oil yield (oil production) than other crops. The 3 highest oil producing crops- Oil Palm, Coconut, & Jatropha- are only utilized in less than 2% of global biodiesel production. And we haven’t even talked about Algae yet! As you will see, there is much room for the development and advancement of biodiesel feedstocks. In our next post we will examine the biodiesel feedstocks currently in use in the United States. You will notice a significant difference between biodiesel global feedstock consumption and U.S. biodiesel feedstock consumption.
- Greg Pahl, Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, ISBN 1-931498-65-2), pp. 46-54.