Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

BIODIESEL: utilization of vegetable oils as diesel fuel

Reliable technical and economic information was gathered to enable the development of a European biodiesel industry. The activities included technical validation in pre industrial units of new processes in transesterification and experiments on different monitored fleets. The activities were linked to the concepts of generating added value on a national basis, as well as reducing energy dependency. In the case of biodiesel, these are not simple objectives due to the high cost of production and use of fossil fuel in farming and processing of rapeseed. Hence, analysis extended to the wider economic impacts, as well as considerations of the net energy balance.

The actions undertaken covered specifications for vegetable oil based biofuels in terms of both pure rape oil for adapted engines, as well as for pure esters. In addition, specifications were drawn up for mixtures of gas oil and methyl esters. Compatibility studies for different materials with esters, as well as toxicity and biodegradability studies, were also completed. Product price remains a key issue. Studies relating to this crucial area included valorization of glycerin in animal feeds and studies of new industrial applications for glycerin depending on its purity. Engine tests were carried out, both on optimized motors and in the form of long term tests on different types of standard vehicles, including low temperature tests, tests on target captive fleets, emission tests with catalytic converters and investigation of public acceptance. The impact of the production and use of rapeseed oil and other esters was assessed through the whole lifecycle of agricultural production and industrial processing, including impact of utilization, handling and storage, as well as in terms of emissions. With respect to the feasibility of putting biodiesel production units into operation, the main deciding factors were political.

Reported by

GEIE Euro Biodiesel
12 avenue George V
75008 Paris
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