Palm Oil Biodiesel - Soybean Biodiesel
Rapeseed Biodiesel - Algal Biodiesel
A Comparison of Bio Diesel Oils

There are many crops grown for bio diesel oils. Palm oil biodiesel, soybean biodiesel and rapeseed biodiesel are all commonly produced today.

What are the best biodiesel sources, and where does the future of biodiesel lie?

Biodiesel Sources

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So biodiesal can potentially be made from any organic oil, which is reacted with other chemicals to make it more liquid and combustible and thus suitable as a straight substitute for petroleum based diesels.

Suitable bio diesel oils for this process come from grain oils, either fresh or as recycled cooking oils.

In the US, the most common biodiesel fuel source is soybeans, though canola oils, and used cooking oils or animal fats waste are also used.

In the developing world palm oil, as well as sunflowers, and other biodiesel crop sources are more popular.

And with the recent dramatic hikes in oil prices, farmers around the world are growing more oilseed crops specifically as biodiesel sources.

The cons of biodiesel are that it is a clean burning, renewable resource that offers a possible solution to the problem of peak oil.

Biodiesel problems

But biodiesel problems are also compelling.

• Already the growing of more oilseed crops is displacing food crops. This is contributing significantly to food shortages, starvation and riots in dozens of countries around the globe.

Cartoon by Andy Singer.
Click on it to view the source.

• The process for making bio diesel uses and spoils a lot of water.

• Growing the crops also uses heaps of energy (especially oil and gas) for the pesticides, tractors, fertilizers and transport.

• Growing crops for bio diesel oils creates pollution.

• Palm oil biodiesel production in developing countries is encouraging large scale clearing of forests.

• Further, though they are currently the most popular biodiesel sources, oilseed crops are very inefficient bio diesel oils.

Check out these annual oil yield estimates for common biodiesel sources.

Yield of palm oil biodiesel, soybean biodiesel, rapeseed biodiesel, soy biodiesel

At first glance, palm oil looks like a good option.

And with a yield of about 635 gallons/acre annually, palm oil biodiesel is certainly a much more efficient way to produce the fuel than any of the other biodiesel oils.

Compared to canola i.e. rapeseed biodiesel oil yield which is only 127 gals/acre/year (the highest yielding temperate climate oilseed biodiesel source), or soybean biodiesel oil which only makes it to 48 gals/acre/year, yes it does look impressive!

However, there are spectacularly better biodiesel sources than even palm oil.

They are the micro algae which can yield 5,000 to 15,000 gallons of oil per year from one acre.

That’s 8 to 25 times more than palm oil biodiesel!!!

You can find out more about algal biodiesel here.

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