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Renewable Energy 16 (1999) 1078-1083


ABSTRACT As used already by Rudolf Diesel in 1912 plant oils represent not a new alternative fuel compared to fossil sources. but only by the force of the oil supply shocks in the 70s a new development of Biodiesel was triggered. This paper gives a review of the political background, the historical development since the beginnings in Austria and the volumes produced today in the world, the main raw materials used, key fuel properties and standards. It highlights the fuel’ environmental s advantages and different marketing strategies applied as well as key factors of micro- and macroeconomic considerations. 6 1998 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS Beef tallow; biodegradability: biodiesel; bioenergy; biofuels; fatty-acid-methyl-ester; methyl-ester: non-food crops; oilseeds: waste oil. rapeseed-oil-

POLITICAL TRIGGERS FOR BIODIESEL The strongest impulse was given by the crisis in supply of mineral oil as the major source for energy in the 70s and again by the Gulf war in 1991. Being highly dependent on huge imports of fossil oil as a finite energy source the European Union has to face today again an increasing risk in secutiq of energy supply for the transport sector caused by the following issues as emphasised by the International Energy Agency (IEA): a) the production-demand gap of fossil oil is declining world-wide, b) North Sea oil will be finished by the year 2010 latest, and c) the energy demand of the non-OECD world is growing dramatically e.g. in China. According to the IEA there will be a need for all alternative fuels for the transport sector. and Biodiesel will be one of them (European Commission. October 1996). The European Commission proposes in the FORUM-scenario a 12 X market share for biofuels by the year 2020 (European Commission, Spring 1996).
0960-1481/99/Lsee front matter c; 1998 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: SO960-1481(98)00406-6

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Concerning environnun& damage the transport sector has a clear responsibility. Within the last 10 years its part in global warming potential has increased from less than 20 !I& more than 25 %, to now bigger than those of the domestic and inslustrialsector, while its contribution to acid pollution constitutes 75 % of total emissions of this pollution type. As one. reaction the European Commission has developed a Directive on the Quality of Fuels with new environmentally driven fuel specifications (European Commission, October 1997). Substantial and costly overproduction of agricultural crops for food has led to a reformed Common Agricultural Policy introducing a set-aside percentage for food-crops but allowing to produce for non-food crops, e.g. rapeseed. The initial percentage for set-aside of 15 % declined step by step over the years to 5 % today, putting the young Biodiesel-industry at a substantial risk of raw material shortage. The future agricultural policy however will have to consider, that with the enlargement of the European Union by the Countries of Central Europe (CCE) tremendous opportunities for Biodiesel production are opening up, as those countries have presently double the acreage per citizen compared to the EU-15 with an enormous potential in agro-productivity.

MILESTONES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIODIESEL First Biodiesel initiatives were reported in 1981 in South-Africa and then in 1982 in Austria, Germany and New Zealand. Already in 1985 a small pilot plant in Austria tested the production of RME with a new technology (ambient pressure and temperature) and in 1990 the first farmers’ cooperative started commercial production of Biodiesel. In the same year the completion of a large fleet tests led to engine warranties by most of the tractor producers as e.g. John Deere, Ford, Massey-Ferguson, Mercedes, Same, as a big step forward towards a successful market introduction of Biodiesel. Another important step was the first fuel standard ON C 1190 for Biodiesel in 1991 by the Austrian Standardisation Institute assuring a high quality of the fuel. Detailed tests on product properties such as engine performance. emission reductions, biodegradability and toxicity were followed. while process economics improved as well continuously. Biodiesel plants were started. mainly in the European Union but also in East Europe, Malaysia and in the USA; the actual capacity and production figures are given in table 1. Table 1. Biodiesel capacities and production volumes 1996 1996 estimated in 1.000 mt: canacities oroduction Austria 38 17 Belgium 200 20 France 310 227 Germany 287 63 Italy 199 141 others 14 6 EU - 15 474 1.048 Czechia 63 22 Rest of Europe :: 8 U.S.A. 5 Canada 1 1 Malavsia 10 10 (Austrian Biofuels Institute, 1997)

1997 oroduction 22 20 250 83 109 11 495 45 10 8 1 10

future nroiects ! 100 30 0 70 200 0 5 300 100 20




The year 19% was a big step forward marked by the start-up of large industrial scale plants in Rouen / France and in Leer / Germany; - and by the milestone of overall warranty for all models of Volkswagen and Audi as trailblazers in the personal car sector. In the same year the foundation of the European Biodiesel Board as a professional organisation of all major Biodiesel producers took place, indicating the further growth of a young industry.

MAIN RAW MATERIALS In the beginning was rapeseed or canola. With the high content of the monounsaturated oleic acid (C 18: 1) of about 60 %, the rather low level of saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic acid < 6%) and also acceptable levels of linolenic acid (C l&3) rapeseed-oil is a rather ideal raw material for the European climate and of reasonable product stability expressed by an Iodine Value (IV) of < 115. Other raw materials used were palm-oil in Malaysia (Schiifer, 1991: Ahmad, 1997) and sunfloweroil in France and Italy, while soybean-oil became the raw material of choice in the USA. In Nicaragua the locally available oil of Jatropha curcas plant is processed. Today low cost sources of triglyceride raw materials as e.g. used frying oils collected at restaurants or even low grade beef tallow are used for Biodiesel production with improved process technologies. At the end however it must be high quality standardised Biodiesel as demonstrated in related tests (Sams, 1996).

KEY FUEL PROPERTIES OF BIODIESEL In testing plant oils as a fuel it was the first lesson to learn, that pure oils, even of fully re-fined quality, do not fit the modern fast running Diesel engine of high efficiency and with a low emission profile. The methyl-esters were the plant oil derivative of choice, simple in production and coming very close to the fuel properties of Diesel (table 2). There are slight but acceptable differences in density and viscosity, the higher flash-point is a beneficial safety feature, and the sulphurfree plant oil is the reason for the excellent SO,-emissions of Biodiesel. Generally the Cetane no. is higher for Biodiesel resulting in a smoother running of the engine with less noise. Table 2. Physical-chemical properties standardised properties: . . density at 15” viscosity at 40” flash-point sulphur Cetane No. other properties: oxygen content caloric value efficiency degree (Walter, 1992) unit kg/m3 mm*/s “C X (m/m) Diesel EN 590: 1993 820 - 860 2,00 - 4,50 > 55 < 0,20 > 49 Biodiesel (FAME) DIN E 51.606:1997 875 - 900 3,5 - 5,0 > 110< 0,Ol > 49 Biodiesel (RME) 10,9 32.9 40.7

% (m/m) MJ/dm3 %

0.0 35,6 38,2

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Biodiesel (RME) is by nature an oxygenated fuel with an oxygen content of about 10 %. Oxygen is causing all the favourable emission results, but it is also the reason for a 7 % lower caloric value. Concerning winter operability as expressed by the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) RME by nature can be used down to - 8” C, with additives down to -22°C. (W&getter, 1995).

BIODIESEL STANDARDISATION As a condition for a successful market introduction and supportive acceptance by engine producers and end-users as customers a fuel for Diesel engines must be specified with carefully selected criteria as a common tool for quality assurance. The very first standard was the Austrian RME specification ON C 1190 for Biodiesel based on OOrapeseed-oil. It was followed by the Austrian Fatty-Acid-Methyl-Ester (FAME) specification ON C I I91 allowing a wider range of triglycerides - virgin or waste oils and fats of plant or animal origin - provided the required high quality for Biodiesel is assured. Other countries followed with similar standards, e.g.: France and Italy in 1993, Czechia in 1994: Sweden in 1996 (SS 15 54 36). and in the USA with an ASTM committee established. (Schindlbauer, 1996). The latest Biodiesel standard today is the German FAME draft specification DIN E 51.606. This standard has obtained a strong European dimension, as it is the basis for warranties given by major Diesel engine producers such as Audi, Ford, IVECO, John Deere, Kubota, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Seat. Skoda. Volkswagen. Volvo, a.o. all over Europe: the next step already initiated is the completion of a CEN-specification in 1998 within TC 19, which is supported through a ECmandate supported by the ALTENER-programme of DC XVII.



Tremendous efforts have been put into life cycle analysis exercises in many countries; Biodiesel appears to be one of the best researched products. In summary one can state, that there is a clear contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases by at least 3,2 kg CO,-equivalent per 1 kg Biodiesel (Scharmer, 1993); those results have been improved since then by lower inputs in raw material production and by more efficient process technology. It is as well established, that there are significant locally impacting emissions e.g. a 99 % reduction of SO,-emissions, and -20% foi CO. -32% for HC, -50% in soot and -39% for particulate matter, while there is a slight increase of NO,-emission, - with delay of injection timing however a decrease of 23 % can be obtained (Sams 1996). Biodiesel appears to be also an ideal synergistic partner for the catalytic converter (oxicat). Not surprisingly Biodiesel as a plant oil derivative has a very low toxicity as a compound being the reason for the high biodegradability of more than 90 % within 3 weeks and for substantial reduction of toxicity risks to lead water organisms like trout, daphnia, water cress and algae, advantzgeous in case of accidental spillage. (Rodinger, 1994).



Bringing a new product to the market requires careful consideration of the market conditions and customer needs. Different strategies have been applied so far:


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Italy has one of the highest levels of mineral oil tax in Europe, both on Diesel fuel and heating oil. Given full detaxation it was therefore a logic step to penetrate Biodiesel the easier accessible market for heating oil. France has chosen another strategy by delivering % to fossil However avoiding visibility Another Diesel. converter Germany forestry Diesel and distributed through the customer is not in a position to refineries, mainly where it is blended with 5 by Elf, Shell and Total. This strategy is in the fuel. the existing to identify system,

the difference and big volumes

to build a separate and costly on the other hand. blendstrategy mainly has recently and Austria. operations.


can enter the market immeway and without

diately on the one hand. the advantages of Biodiesel is tried in the USA, obtained Target

are applied only in a diluted

where 20 % soy-oil-methyl-ester fuel blend for the Urban Bus Retrofit

are mixed with fossil with a catalytic programme.

because of price

reasons. The 80/20

in combination

EPA certification applications

Taking all the benefits of Biodiesel

a 100 % and undiluted identified groundwater

to the market is the strategy of choice in areas, irrigation pumps. skiing areas. and

can be environmentally sensitive segments, locations

e.g. water protection
the .,green” driver.

on lakes and quality national

parks, as well as taxis, city buses in smog endangered

MICROWithout going



CONSIDERATIONS in the microeconomics calculation DEM should be 300,-/ ton

into much detail the. key sensitivities factor


by far the most important

in the production

is cost of raw material. Oilseeds the calculation. into high value

from set-aside fields have been traded in Europe at acceptable prices at around seed so far, cheap used frying The second most important methyl-esters: Usually oil and other waste oils and fats can improve triglycerides and free fatty 1996). factor - and often not recognised

as such - is the yield in the process. acids are turned

i.e. to what degree trans-esterifiable the selling price is oriented

it should not be lower than 99.7 % (Koncar.

at the fossil Diesel price and can compete under the condition

of mineral oil tax relieves. The exercise of internalising Following assuming (Schbpe, US$O,64 a recently 300.000 1996). there is a less-global-warming-bonus, which per 1 kg Biodiesel in industrialised countries in environmentally sensitive is calculated as CO, -avoiding cost of on (Hohmeyer, 1993). less-risk-bonus depending all external costs gives the following study of the IFO-Munich, a Biodiesel macro-economic from picture: study given


which completed production already

an input-output

ha of rapeseed in Germany,

this acreage would

create 5.000 jobs and this job-creation-bonus would justify Additionally

70 % of the detaxation

For the application

areas the relevant

local risk levels has to be evaluated In addition

individually. a US-governor US$ 9.68 per

there is an energy-supply-secutity-bonus: in a rather easy investigation the cost of US strategic presence in peace times in the Gulf fossil oil into the USA (Ravenal, energy 1991). with

study calculated barrel imported Biodiesel Obviously

has a positive

balance of approx.

1 : 3.2 (Schafer,

1996) and has therefore (Scharmer.


fossil energy saving effect of ca. 0.85 kg mineral there is a substantial

oil saved per 1 kg Biodiesel


renewability-bonus growing

in value for the years to come.



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