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.
|Crop||Oil Production||Biodiesel Global Consumption (%)||Where Grown/Used||Description|
|Oil Palm||5,950||635||1%||West Africa from Liberia to Angola, Zanzibar, Madagascar, & Malaysia. Also grown in Southern California & Florida.||Obtained from African Oil Palm which produces 2 oil types: palm oil & palm kernel oil. It is the top ranking feedstock in terms of oil yield. Main biodiesel feedstock in Malaysia. Palm oil derived biodiesel has a high gel point & is less desirable for use in colder climates.|
|Coconut||2,689||287||<1%||All tropical regions of the world.||Coconut oil comes from the meat of the coconut. Ranks third among the most-produced oils in the world. Currently cocunut is a minor source for biodiesel feedstock.|
|Jatropha||1,590||202||<1%||Most of Africa, Brazil, El Salvador, Fiji, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, & Puerto Rico.||Jatropha bush adapts well to marginal, semi-arid locations. Can be grown as a hedge for animal fencing, erosion control, & property boundaries. Largely grown as a medicinal plant. Currenlty Jatropha is minor source for biodiesel fuel but offers great future potential due to its higher oil production yield.|
|Canola Rapeseed||1,190||127||84%||Canada, most European countries, & Russia.||Will grow in most temperate regions. Main feedstock for all biodiesel manufactured in Europe. Represents 84% of the global biodiesel feedstocks. Produces the highest oil yield of any oilseed crop.|
|Peanut||1,059||113||1%||South America & United States of America.||Currently grown in warm climates & sandy soils world-wide. Ranks first among the most-produced oils in the world. Considered a minor source for biodiesel feedstock.|
|Sunflower||952||102||13%||United States of America, Europe, & Russia.||Grown in many countrys, sunflowers will grow well in both tropical & temperate regions. Represents 13% of the global biodiesel feedstocks. Regarded as the second most important type of edible oil in the world.|
|Safflower||779||83||<1%||Asia, Europe, Mexico, South America, United States of America||Grows well in areas that favor wheat & barley. Safflower is planted & harvested with the same farm equipment used with small grains. Currently safflower is not a major biodiesel feedstock.|
|Mustard||572||61||<1%||Grown in many countries||Is considered a weed in some agrarian regions of the world. Currently mustard is not a major biodiesel feedstock.|
|Soybean||446||48||1%||East Asia, United States of America||Grown in subtropical & tropical regions. Ranks second among the most-produced oils in the world. Soybean oil is the most common biodiesel feedstock in the U.S. It is not the best crop for oil/biodiesel production.|
|Corn||172||18||<1%||Africa, Central America, South America, Russia, United States of America||The oil produced from corn comprises only 7-8% of the grain. Processed corn oil is used extensively as a frying oil in the United States. Corn is at the bottom of the oil production spectrum.|
- Greg Pahl, Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, ISBN 1-931498-65-2), pp. 46-54.