Palm Oil: for Food and Fuel

Dwiyitno*) E mail:
Abstract Oil prices have climbed to unprecedented heights, and concerns about the environmental effects of fossil fuel use are on the rise. Bioenergy appears to offer hope for addressing these concerns while also providing new opportunities for poor people and farmers in developing countries. Providing biofuel is clearly effective to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel supplies. Palm oil is known as the most economical vegetable oil regarding to its oil yield. In term of energy balance, palm oil is also highly profitable as biodiesel feedstock compared to any other vegetable oils. The increase demand on biodiesel, mainly for EU market, makes some countries (chiefly Indonesia and Malaysia) position some of their palm oil to be processed as biodiesel. Regarding the fact that around 20% of global palm oil is utilized for non food purposes, switching it to biodiesel purpose may not affect significantly on the food security, particularly the globally vegetable oil supply. However, exploration feedstock from non edible sources is crucial in order to avoid the competition between food and biofuel. Key words: bioenergy, biofuel, biodiesel, bioethanol, food security, palm oil Introduction The attention on renewable fuel as a new source of energy is considered rising as the increase of world petroleum price. Responding the energy crisis in 1973, Brazil pioneered to produce a portion of its sugar mills to ethanol, and in so recently became the leading producer worldwide. The enthusiasm and interest on producing and using biofuel is thereafter not only limited to the developed countries but also in many developing countries. While USA has produced and uses bioethanol since 1980s, many European countries have been producing and using biodiesel since the early 1990s. Today, more than 20 countries all over the world have focused on producing first generation biofuels in various capacities, chiefly bioethanol and biodiesel. The promised benefit of biofuel generates the growing demand of biofuel for various purposes. Demanding for ethanol and biodiesel derived from grains, vegetable oils, sugar and other crops has risen sharply. Brazil and the United States are the largest producers of ethanol derived from sugar cane and corn respectively. The production of bioethanol from these 2 countries are accounting for about 90% of world production, while European Union, especially France and Germany, is the largest producer of biodiesel, accounting for 88% of world production (Hazell & Pachauri, 2006). Recently, few developing countries have sizable biofuel programs. The main players are China, Colombia, India, and Thailand, while many others are interested in initiating (or have initiated) small pilot programs. In 2001 India launched programme in the production of bioenergy plantation, biodiesel, bioethanol, hydrogen from biomass (DBT, 2007). The three aspects of sustainability in biofuel production are environment, economics and society (Ecosense, 2007). The focus of this article is to review the current trend on global biofuel concern, the problems as well as its future challenges. As the main feedstock of bioethanol and biodiesel production comes from food commodities such as sugar cane, maize, palm oil and soybean oil, information on the commodity’s potential as well as the alternative commodities for biofuel production is essential. Particular discussion is concentrated on the opportunity of biodiesel derived from palm oil in accordance with the food security status, especially the globally vegetable oil supply. Biofuels as renewable energy sources Biofuels are renewable fuels that are predominantly produced from domestically produced biomass feed stocks or as a by product from the industrial processing of agricultural or food products, or from the recovery and reprocessing of products such as cooking and vegetable oil (FAO, 2000). Biofuels can be divided into two main categories: conventional (first generation) and advanced (second generation) biofuel. There are significant differences between first and second generation biofuels or even between biofuels of the same generation. First-generation biofuels are made from food crop feedstocks while second-generation biofuels are made from agriculture and forestry waste, such as woodchips and straw (Refuel, 2007). Figure 1 ilustrates the general process of biofuel production either 1st or 2nd generation.


When commercialized. the cost of second-generation biofuels has also the potential to be more comparable with standard petrol and diesel. 2007). second generation biofuel has not been available in significant commercial quantities within 10 years (Refuel. It is true that global biofuel contribution is still low in comparison to the fossil fuel consumption.4% of total transport consumption) in 2002. However.1st Generation BIOMASS Oil crop Sugar & starch crop 2nd Generation Lignocelluloses Extraction Extraction Hydrolysis Gasification Pyrolysis Plant oil Sugar Synthesis Refining Esterification Fermentation Biodiesel Ethanol Ethanol Green Diesel MeOH FTL DME Figure 1. 2007). bioethanol is the world’s main biofuel. made from food crops. Laherrere. Figure 2. since the second-generation biofuels are made from non-food feedstocks. worldwide production of ethanol was 422 million 2 . but expected to more than quadruple by 2030. can offer some CO2 benefits and can help to improve domestic energy security. the production of fossil oil reached nearly 3. 2004). reaching 36 Mtoe (IEA. In 2004. Total world biofuel consumption was only 8 Mtoe (0. World oil production with different scenarios (IEA. but projected to decline after the peak production between 2010 and 2020 with capacity about 100 Mb/day (Langwell. In contrast. The two main types of first-generation biofuel used commercially are ethanol and biodiesel. they could significantly reduce CO2 production without compete with food crops and some types can offer better engine performance. 2002. such as waste from agriculture and forestry. Used at 100% concentration. 2002) Nowadays. which is Brazil and the United States dominate as the largest producers. second generation biofuels could reduce well-to-wheels CO2 production by up to 90% (Shell. 2003) (Figure 2).550 million tones (+ 80 million barrels/day). Conversely. Basic process of biofuel production First-generation biofuels.

Nevertheless. followed by the United States. Hence. In conclude. Average biodiesel emissions compared to conventional diesel Emission Regulated Total Unburned Hydrocarbons Carbon Monoxide Particulate Matter NOx Non-Regulated Sulfates PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) ** nPAH (nitrated PAH’s)** Ozone potential of speciated HC * Estimated from B100 result ** Average reduction across all compounds measured *** 2-nitroflourine results were within test method variability Source (EPA. 2002). which produces 8%. and a positive impact on agriculture. reduced emissions.. 2003. 2006).hectoliters.S. if no new policies are put in place. 2005). 2007). the use of biodiesel results in a significant reduction in CO2 and CO emission.4 million tones in 2004. The EU’s production of biofuels amounted to 2. For that reason. approximately 0. reducing pollutant emissions is associated with reducing climate changing (global warming) and thereby is essential in alleviating various human health problems.75% of overall fuel consumption by 2010 (Directive/2003/30 EC. Biodiesel is also extremely low in sulphur. European Union for example.. represents to meet its emission reduction target as agreed under the Kyoto agreement by cut down its overall greenhouse gas emissions relative to the 1990 level by 8% in the period from 2008 to 2012 (Henke. which until recently was produced almost solely in the EU. non-toxic and more environmental friendly (Hazell & Pachauri. As biofuel contains non petroleum or may be blended at any level with petroleum fuel. Anonim. Various studies have estimated that the use of 1 kg of biodiesel leads to the reduction of some 3 kg of CO2 (EPA. biogas comes third and has so far made a breakthrough with total EU25’s production was 4. Notably. is the largest producer of biodiesel. In the U. biodegradable. 2006). 65-90% and 12-485 less than conventional diesel respectively (Table 1). electricity generation accounted for the majority of the increase. the EU is pressing its member states to meet their target of increasing their share of biofuels to 5. At the beginning of this period.27 Mtoe in 2004 compared to 3. biofuel is simple to use. Table 1. accounting for 88% of world production. Consumption of ethanol fuel in the main American. The European Union.91 Mtoe in 2003. Biofuel and environmental issues The global concern on the environment as well as the fossil fuel shortage plays important role in the growing of biofuel production. Further projections show a continuing increase of global carbon dioxide emissions by 69% in the year 2030. More recently. transport has been the fastest growing sector in terms of emissions.8% of EU petrol and diesel consumption (EU. biofuel has been demonstrated to have significant environmental benefits in terms of decreased global warming impacts. 2002) Type B100 -67% -48% -47% +10% -100% -80% -90% -50% B20 -20% -12% -12% +2% to -2% -20%* -13% -50%*** -10% 3 . EPAct program (1992) has a significant effect on the development of the biodiesel market by establishing a goal of replacing 10% of motor fuels with non-petroleum alternatives by 2000 and increasing to 30% by the year 2010 (EPA. is now gaining a more attention in many countries across the world. from roughly 400 to 800 million hectoliters (Total. mainly in developed countries. 2002). it is sometimes claimed could be the answer to the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Global carbon emission is known to climb rapidly. European and Asian markets is expected to double between 2005 and 2010. Biodiesel. During 19712001. of which 36% was in Brazil and 33% in the United Sates. Fossil fuel shares in overall emissions decreased slightly from 51% to 42%. et al. Fuel switching and the increasing use of non fossil energy sources reduced the CO2 ratio by almost 9% over the past 30 years (IEA. 2002). 2006). carbon dioxide emission has risen by 68%. Furthermore. especially France and Germany. and has a high lubricity and fast biodegradability.

850 0. etc. Thailand may allow importing of palm oil to produce biodiesel due to a shortage of palm oil. direct acid catalyzed transesterification of the oil.100. low temperature and pressure. soybean oil. These plants are mainly located in Germany. there are approximately 120 plants in the EU producing up to 6. Biodiesel has been produced on an industrial scale in the European Union since 1992.8 million ha. In the U. 2 Diesel and Biodiesel (B100) Source: National Biodiesel Board (2002) The sustainability of biofuel production Biodiesel is known as the mono-alkyl esters of fatty acids. Italy. animal fats (beef tallow or lard). Brazil has an arable farmland of 320 million hectares of which 53 million are in use today. Average density and heating value of biodiesel and diesel fuel Fuel No. Bioethanol is biofuel mainly produced by the sugar fermentation process. There are three basic routes to biodiesel production from oils and fats: 1) base catalyzed transesterification of the oil. while in 2005.851* Energy (Btu/gal) 129. In Asia. biodiesel is the product obtained when a vegetable oil or animal fat is chemically reacted with an alcohol to produce fatty acid alkyl esters.880 0. 2002). respectively 0. bioethanol is produced in small amount derived from cassava (Green Car Congress. palm oil. no exotic materials of construction are needed (National Biodiesel Board.856* 0. an increase was expected to be 1. the crop yield was 350 million tons/ha.276* Difference to No. 2007).). Biodiesel from soybeans is sometimes called soydiesel.S. A catalyst such as sodium or potassium hydroxide is required. trap grease (restaurant grease traps. 2007). Nevertheless. Table 2. palm oil and also used frying oils (UFO) or animal fats. sunflower seed oil.73 %* 0. it may be effectively used either when blended with fossil diesel fuel or in pure form.4 million ha.4% of the total EU25 cereals and 0.8% of the EU25 of sugar beet production (IEA. EU production of bioethanol used in 2004 around 1. 3). restaurant waste oils (used frying oils). In 2003. 2002). there are presently 105 companies that have invested millions of dollars into the development of biodiesel manufacturing plants and are actively marketing biodiesel. rapeseed areas devoted to the production of biofuels should be multiplied by at least six fold by 2010 (INRA. Whereas in Thailand. In the transport sector. There are about 400 bioethanol production plants with an overall capacity of currently approximately 4 . directly converted to biodiesel with no intermediate compounds. The primary feedstock for bioethanol is sugarcane in Brazil and maize in the United States (EPA. 2006). Austria.6 million hectares are used for the production of sugar cane. 2002). The annual production capacity from these plants is 864 million gallons/ year. about half of the sugar cane in Brazil is allocated to the production of bioethanol.2 diesel 8. most biodiesel is made from rapeseed oil and it is known as rapeseed methyl esters (RME) (University of Idaho.500 118..Most of the biodiesel produced today is done with the base catalyzed reaction for several reasons: 1). Tests undertaken by motor manufacturers on blends with diesel oil up to 2%. yields high conversion (98%) with minimal side reactions and reaction time. methyl soyate. while glycerol is produced as a coproduct (FAO. This represents. Biodiesel can also be made from other feedstocks such as other vegetable oils (corn oil. To encourage the adoption of B5. Thailand government is subsidizing the biodiesel blend to a price lower than conventional diesel (Green Car Congress. 2006).17 %* * Calculated Values from those of No.000 tones of biodiesel annually. Only 5. France and Sweden. although it can also be manufactured by the chemical process of reacting ethylene with steam. Today. 2). Soybean oil is the most popular feedstock for biodiesel in the U. cottonseed oil.65 % 1. In Europe.S. conversion of the oil to its fatty acids and then to biodiesel. or at 20% and 100% pure have resulted in guarantees for each type of use (Table 2). produced from vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil. etc. mustard oil.296 127. and the government subsidizes on this crop to make the fuel economically attractive to consumers. 2). Currently.259* 129.2 million tones of cereals and 1 million tones of sugar beet. In keeping with the objective. 2002). In 2004 the total area used for biofuel crop production was around 1. and 4). In simply.2 Diesel Biodiesel (B100) B20 Blend (B20) B2 Blend (B2) Density (g/cm3) 0. or soy methyl esters (SME). float grease from waste water treatment plants). and 3).

1998). al. molasses.9 (2004) 1. Scenedesmus dimorphus and Prymnesium parvum administer the highest content of lipid (up to 40%) (Sheehan.. and cyanobacteria (microalgae) have been found to contain relatively high levels of lipids. global biofuel production is still relatively minor and produced in just a few countries (Table 3). some fungal strains were found to be promising giving high activities of cellulase (DBT. and Porphyridium cruentum are found with significant content of lipid. 2007). 5 .068 In progress In progress In progress Target (year) (Mil m3/year) 10. Chlamydomonas rheinhardii. algae contain of lipids/oils more than any other source of biodiesel (Oliga. 2007). The current status of selected countries on biofuel production Country Brazil USA EU Japan China India Australia Argentina New Zealand Thailand Malaysia Indonesia Product Ethanol Biodiesel Ethanol Biodiesel Biodiesel Ethanol Ethanol Biodiesel Ethanol Ethanol Biodiesel Ethanol Biodiesel Biodiesel Bioethanol Biodiesel Biodiesel Biodiesel Current capacity (Mil m3/year) 16.17 million m³ per year (Henke. including the impact it may have on environment. Studies on the production of ethanol from vegetable sources (apple and tomato waste extracts) using Zymomonas mobilis strains has been initiated. This plant is potential as biofuel feedstock due to its tolerance to be cultivated on non arable area. Scenedesmus dimorphus.7 (2007) 0. Algal strains. Biofuel feed stocks may be either “residues” (waste products from other activities) or “purposed crop”. Environmental impact particularly resulted by deforestation for the feedstock plantation is often questioned as well as the disturbance of the natural biodiversity. et.35 0. (2006). et al. As could be seen from Table 4. producing for biofuel will not affect to the global food security.14 (2007) 0.12 (2008) Main Feedstock Sugar cane Soy. metabolites and sources of energy (DBT. palm.25 (2006) 0.015 In progress 0. used oil Wheat Used oil Palm Various Palm oil Corn Soy Tallow Cassava Palm oil Palm oil Palm oil Source: EurObserver (2005). Account is also being taken on the biofuel production from Jatropha curcas. while purpose grown feed stocks have costs associated with growing and harvesting the crop (Hale. Palm. and sawdust is being tried using high yielding thermotolerant starch. al. 2005). biodiversity and land use as well as competition with food crops. Since jatropha oil is not edible. 2006). Euglena gracilis.7 0. diatoms. a wild tropical plant native to Central America. These microalgal strains with highly oil or lipid content are of great interest in the search for a sustainable feedstock for the production of biodiesel.5 (2004) 0. Chlorella vulgaris. Scenedesmus obliquus. Among those. Liu (2006) Alternative feedstocks for biofuel Some concerns exist about the sourcing of feed stocks for biofuel..02 0. 2007). as they are a by-product of other activities. Conservation benefit will also be influenced from the cultivation in non productive area as well as reducing the poverty in the rural area. Microalgae are known for its content of lipids and fatty acids as membrane components. DBT. Residues have negligible production costs. 2007). starch. Spirogyra sp. However.4 (2010) 500 1. jatropha cand be found in most tropical countries.. 2006.. Hale. al. et.2 (2010) 11. On the other hand.14 0.4 (2004) 6 0. Table 3. Prymnesium parvum. Tallow Corn Soy Rapeseed. Industrial scale plantation of jatropha is being establishing in India and Indonesia (Mulyani et. Recently.9 (2004) 12. storage products.. et al. Bioethanol production from renewable resources like fruit and vegetable wastes and other raw material such as sweet sorghum.

wheat.9 billion gallons (Table 6). sugar cane.4 2. On the other hand. soya.e.51).3 % 32.0000 Unused frying oil (UFO) is becoming common to be processed for biodiesel. This fact is strongly beneficial for palm oil to position itself on the biofuel market.8 7. By 2004. Yield of various plant oils Crop Castor Sunflower Safflower Palm Soybean Coconut Algae Source: (Oliga.37 4. World Vegetable Oil Production 2002/2003 Crop Soybean Palm Sunflower Rapeseed Cottonseed Peanut Volume (Billion Gallons) 8.Table 4.5 million ha (2005). The production of vegetable oil in the world is estimated at 26. palm) Jatropha curcas Algae (experimental scale) By product: Tallow Recycled cooking oil Palm is known as the most productive crop in producing vegetable oil. 2006).000 tons of biodiesel fuel (Liu. 2006). compared to any other vegetable oils (Table 4). Oil (Liters/hectare) 1. Indonesia and Malaysia dominate the global oil palm supply with share more than 80%. which is dominated by soybean oil (32.26 0.689 10. vegetables) Forestry residues Palm oil based biodiesel and food security Biodiesel Purposed crop: Oilseeds (rapeseed.0 1. China’s biodiesel production began in 2001 with the salad oil wastes used as feedstock and thereby expanded to use animal fats and wild oilseed plants. Indonesia is known as the largest palm oil plantation for than 5. China manufactured 110.413 952 779 5. According to the projection by FAO. accounting 60% of total agriculture. supply and trade are projected to rise by around 30% between today and the year 2015 (Thoenes. cassava) Short rotation forestry (salix.95 million ton oil production/year. Malaysian is dominating 0% of world palm oil production of which 90% is subjected for export market (Chai. 2007). Table 6.000– 120. only 3 companies engaged in the fuel’s production. Table 5. 2006). 2007). with a total capacity of 40. global vegetable oil demand.8 6 . Table 5 shows examples of feed stocks for bioethanol and biodiesel production.950 446 2.000 tons/year. both in production and trade (Table 7). this waste had two purposes i.71%) and palm oil (27. while in 2005. Miscanthus By product: Whey Crop residues (fruits. sunflower.71 27. eucalyptus) Switchgrass. With the 13 million oil production. Historically.9 12. The total area of palm plantation in Malaysia is 4. Today. Common feed stock for biofuel production Bioethanol Purposed crop: Crops (maize. sugar beet.05 million ha (2005). Indonesia contributes as the second producer palm oil and projected to lead after 2010 (Liwang.4 3. discharged into local sewage systems or covertly reused in substandard kitchens that may contribute to frequent food-poisoning incidents.3 1. With the 14. particularly in China.51 8.

9 3.4% because of the high stock. China.42 2. used as raw material for biodiesel production or employed in various intermediary forms (Da Costa & Lora.080 790 632 668 NA NA > 30. 2006) With regard to the trend of declining of global palm oil price. the average crude palm oil (CPO) price fell 13.6 3.660 8.19 0.159 % 48. palm oil has remained the lowest priced vegetable oil.00 2001 (000 tons) 11.000 39.00 100.36 100. Today palm oil is consumed world-wide as the vegetable oil with the highest level of market penetration.Coconut Olive Palm Kernel Total Source: Thoenes (2006) 0.93 26.36 3.69 0. Malaysia and Pakistan are the main consumer of palm oil. corn.74 190 50 30 NA 230 260 1.00 3. beetroot and castor (Table 8).00 12.263 24.5 2. In the mid of 2005. (3) the oil palm industry seems to have benefited from a favorable economic environment and policy setting. Initially. Development of world palm oil production Country Malaysia Indonesia Nigeria Colombia Thailand Congo Others Total 1969 (000 tons) % 370 32. Therefore. 2007).01 100.130 16. Studies showed that biodiesel production derived from palm oil has the highest energy balance.35 23. Global price of selected vegetavle oil (Thoenes. (4) the high level of market concentration.40 9.974 46.82 4.300 750 560 530 96 2.66 20. as measured in terms of oil produced per ha/year by far exceed in comparison to those of other vegetable oils.26 34.11 2.4 Table 7.00 2. 7 . the new demand for vegetable oil for biodiesel production has had a major influence on the recent strengthening of prices. Although strengthening along with the other oils. Figure 3. producing biodiesel from palm oil is supposed more profitable in comparison to the recent palm oil market. This fact seems affected by the price of palm oil which known as the cheapest relatively to any other vegetable oils (Figure 3).00 Source: Thoenes (2006) There are a number of factors which explain the remarkable expansion of palm oil during the past decades: (1) palm oil yields. India.32 2.00 2004 (000 tons) % 13.00 2. Indonesia. (2) palm oil production costs are low when compared to other oil crops.95 0. EU. compared to rapeseed. palm oil can be burned directly as fuel.

2007. allocating small amount of palm oil for biofuel may not affect the food security of palm oil supply (Liwang. The trend of stagnation (or even declining) of palm oil price and the increase demand on palm biodiesel oil. Soap and detergent industry. http://dbtindia. global biodiesel production is still very low. palm oil is also highly profitable as biodiesel feedstock compared to any other vegetable oils.. Malaysia and Indonesia have put aside of 40% palm oil as biodiesel (Green Car Congress. The Energy Balance in The Production Of Palm Oil Biodiesel: Two Case Studies: Brazil and Colombia. Indonesia. in European Union. 2006.23 1. It is noticed that around 20% of palm oil is know not utilized for food production. 4) DBT. 2) Avendaño. Quality.0 2. In comparison to bioethanol.41 .0 .2 Mtoe by 2010.Lora. T. Colombia’s Palm Oil Biodiesel Push. On the other hand.html. 2006). Brazil and Colombia) position some of their palm oil production to be allocated for biodiesel. Conclusion Biofuel production is essential due to the trend of increasing global oil price as a result of increasing demand and the impacts of some international crisis.E. Palm oil is known as the most economically vegetable oil regarding its oil yield/ha/year. printing and plastic industries as well as oil industry are among the areas take advantages from the low price of global palm oil prices. (2007) Commercial production of biodiesel from palm oil has started or is about to start in a number of countries in Asia. and E.a.3. In term of energy balance. Providing biofuel is clearly effective to reduce the dependence on imported oil and extend fossil fuel supplies. biodiesel is also compatible with the existing fuel distribution infrastructure. 8 . 2007.8.R. PM and HC emissions.9 6. Accessed on March 23th 2007. Methanol Institute and International Fuel Quality Center. Conversely. switching it to biodiesel purposes may not affect significantly on the food security. Biofuel. particularly the globally vegetable oil supply. market demand of biodiesel for EU is increasing gradually from 5. exploration feedstock from non edible sources is crucial in order to avoid the competition between food and biofuel. References 1) Anonim. 2007).2 . biofuel production derived from palm oil is expected as the promised biofuel product to fulfill European market.4 2.0 .3. 2007. allocating such particular amount of palm oil to produce biodiesel will benefit in establishing the competitiveness of palm oil price in the global market.2.7 .Table 8. Able to be used in existing diesel engines with proper care and attention.E. 3 1. Therefore. 2007. chiefly for EU market. Americas Program Report February 2.0 Productivity (ton/ha) n. biofuel production is potential to help stimulate agricultural markets and reduce poverty in rural areas by providing jobs for the poor. For this reason.5. 3) Da Costa. make some countries (Malaysia. Regarding the fact that around 20% of global palm oil is utilized for non food purposes. 2006).8 in 2007 to 10. led by Malaysia and Indonesia. Referring to the Directive/2003/30 EC-2003. As more environmentally friendly alternative to petrodiesel. A Biodiesel Primer: Market & Public Policy Developments. while in South America by Brazil and Colombia (Avendano. as well as CO. cosmetic. Furthermore. Indirect impact of this policy is reducing poverty in rural area due to the availability of job opportunity in producing palm oil as well as in processing biodiesel.8 Country EU Lithuania Germany Brazil Brazil Source: Da Costa & Lora.nic. However. Energy balance of biofuel production from different feed stocks Feed stock EU biodiesel Rapeseed Maize & beetroot Castor Palm Energy balance 3. Standards & Handling.S. biodiesel is a hope to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as CO2.

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