What are some of the most common crops used for biofuel production?

While the most common crops used for ethanol throughout the world are certainly corn and sugarcane, there are an increasing number of crops being investigated and used in the industry. Amongst sugar/starch crops, sugarbeet and sweet sorghum have been the focus of much attention; cellulosic crops such as switchgrass, miscanthus, corn stover, poplar, and grass are the subject of increasing interest.
Currently, rapeseed (canola) is the dominant feedstock for biodiesel in Europe, and soybeans are the dominant feedstock for biodiesel …

Jatropha: Biodiesel and More

Jatropha seed oil is used in soaps, and energy for lighting and heating in subtropical and tropical areas where it is planted as living fences to stop soil erosion. Its biodiesel potential is being researched because the seeds contain from 25% to 40% oil.

Jatropha fruits and seed. Copyright FAO, UN



Jatropha curcas is an oilseed tree or shrub that grows in …

Soybeans for Biodiesel Production

The many benefits to using soybean oil in the production of biodiesel include, soybeans are widely grown, the infrastructure and equipment to grow, transport and process them already exists, and the left over soybean meal is important for animal feed. Read more about the advantages and drawbacks of soybeans as a biofuel energy crop.

One ton tote of soybeans


Animal Fats for Biodiesel Production

Explore the use of animal fats as an oil feedstock in the production of biodiesel. This article covers the advantages and challenges of using oil from animal fat in biodiesel fuel.

Beef tallow. Photo: FotoosvanRobin; Wikimedia Commons.


Economics of Small-Scale Biodiesel Production

Table of Contents

Economics of Small-Scale Biodiesel Production

Canola or rapeseed oil crop. Photo: eXtension Ag Energy.


Small-scale biodiesel production economics can vary substantially depending on an individual producer’s choice of feedstock, equipment, market, and the …

Sunflowers for Biofuel Production

Do you know that biodiesel energy can be made from sunflower seed oil? Oilseed sunflowers are grown easily and profitably at both small farm and large field scales.

These sunflowers in southern Vermont were grown for on-farm biodiesel production.Photo: Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension.



Oilseed sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is quickly gaining popularity as a feedstock crop …

Warm Climate Feedstocks for Biodiesel

Did you know the state tree of Hawaii, the candlenut tree or kukui, can produce oil for biodiesel energy? Oil palm, coconut, jatropha, croton, candlenut, and tallow tree are warm climate trees whose oil from nuts, seeds or fruits can be used to make biodiesel.

Coconuts grows in most tropical areas.



Although the following trees and crops are not generally grown commercially in the United States, American farmers …

Safety in Small-Scale Biodiesel Production


Although the biodiesel manufacturing process is fairly straightforward, there are several aspects of biodiesel production that need careful attention to detail for a productive, safe, and environmentally sound practice. First, some chemicals used could pose serious risks to the operator or to the environment, unless the proper precautions are taken for storage, process safety, handling, ventilation, and use. Second, disposal of glycerol by-product and waste water generated from biodiesel production could cause environmental harm, unless …

New Uses for Crude Glycerin from Biodiesel Production


Glycerol (also known as glycerin) is a major byproduct in the biodiesel manufacturing process. In general, for every 100 pounds of biodiesel produced, approximately 10 pounds of crude glycerol are created. As the biodiesel industry is rapidly expanding, a glut of crude glycerol is being created. Because this glycerol is expensive to purify for use in the food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetics industries, biodiesel producers must seek alternative methods for its disposal. Various methods for disposal and utilization of this …

Biodiesel Table of Contents


Introduction to Biodiesel

Oilseed Crops and Other Feedstocks for Biodiesel Production

VT Sunflower field
VT Sunflowers for biodiesel. Photo:Vern Grubinger, UVM Extension