Rapeseed and Canola for Biodiesel Production

Oil from rapeseed or canola seed, the edible crop varieties, is used in biodiesel energy production. The oil has a low cloud point so it gels at lower temperatures than many other feedstocks.

Canola plants growing at Tennessee State University research farm. Photo: Jason de Koff, Extension Assistant Professor, Tennessee State University.



Oilseed Handling for Biodiesel Production


Many types of oil-bearing seeds and nuts can be used to make biodiesel. Commonly used feedstocks for the production of biodiesel include soybean, rapeseed/canola, used (waste) vegetable oils, and tallow/lard (animal fat). Mustard biodiesel is being studied at the University of Idaho, and Montana State University is conducting research on camelina for biodiesel production. Safflower, sunflowers, corn, and even hazelnut produce oil that could be used for biodiesel. Warm-climate tree oils such as palm oil, coconut, and …

Introduction to Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

How much energy does it take to produce biodiesel, compared to the energy in the fuel itself? And what is the total environmental impact of biodiesel production? These questions can be answered using a technique called “life cycle analysis.”

Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a relatively recent tool, growing in popularity, that is used to estimate the environmental, energy, and economic performance of a product or a system. In essence, it is a budgeting process that accounts for all inputs …

Handling Strong Bases in Biodiesel Production

Sodium and Potassium Hydroxides/Methoxides

Used to catalyze the transesterification reaction, sodium and potassium hydroxide are extremely corrosive.

The hydroxides are dry flakes or pellets and must be dissolved in methanol, which produces “methoxides” concentrated in methanol. The dust from the hydroxides is an airway irritant and will burn unprotected skin and eyes, especially when handled manually. Dissolving the hydroxides in alcohol is an exothermic reaction and can generate a considerable amount of heat. Stirring the liquid in an open container …

Handling Strong Acids in Biodiesel Production

Sulfuric and Hydrochloric Acids

Acids may be used in treating high free fatty acid (FFA) feedstocks, neutralizing base catalyst and splitting soaps in the washing process, and/or in treating the crude glycerin by-product. Acids are colorless and can be extremely damaging to all body tissue. Acids cause rapid tissue destruction and serious chemical burns. Their vapors can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; shortness of breath; pulmonary edema; or other serious ailments. Workers should wear acid-resistant protective clothing and gloves, …

Biodiesel Cloud Point and Cold Weather Issues

Table Of Contents


In the northern parts of the United States and other cold regions of the world, one of the major concerns among biodiesel users is its unfavorable cold flow properties. In cold climates, it can be a …

BQ-9000 Program for Biodiesel Producers


BQ-9000 is a voluntary quality assurance program created by the National Biodiesel Board. For details, visit the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program BQ-9000 program

The BQ-9000 program certifies biodiesel producers, marketers, and testing labs. The BQ-9000 program starts with the ASTM D6751 standard for biodiesel and adds a quality systems program to make sure biodiesel is sampled, tested, stored, blended, shipped, and distributed in a way that maintains high quality.

The incentive for a producer or a marketer to become …

Methoxide Catalysts in Biodiesel Production

The methoxide ion, OCH3, is the active catalyst for the production of methyl esters. It is this chemical unit that attacks the triglyceride molecules and produces the methyl esters. It is regenerated at the end of each reaction step when a hydrogen ion is stripped from a nearby methanol molecule.

If ethanol is being used, then the corresponding catalyst is called ethoxide, OCH2CH3.

Most small producers create the methoxide ions needed for …

Growing Hazelnuts for Biofuel Production

Want to know why the hazelnut or filbert and its hybrids have potential as as oil crop? This article provide information about production, yields and challenges of growing hazelnuts for biofuels.

September harvest of European hazelnuts in New Jersey. Photo: Thomas Molnar.



Hazelnuts, also known as filberts (Corylus spp.), are a perennial tree crop …

Handling Alcohols in Biodiesel Production

Methanol and Ethanol

Methanol is the driving force behind the transesterification reaction. Methanol is colorless and tasteless, with a mildly sweet odor, and is a toxic chemical. It can enter the body through inhalation, direct skin contact, or accidental swallowing. It can cause blindness or death. Because it is eliminated from the body slowly, it is considered a cumulative poison, and repeated exposure could present long-term health hazards.

Personnel working with methanol should wear protective clothing (pants, long sleeves, coveralls) …