BIODIESEL (FAME), THE URGE FOR A NEW QUALITY STANDARD
Everyone will agree with the fact that one day fossil oil will become very rare. This explains the worldwide search for sustainable biofuels. At this moment Biodiesel/FAME is by far the most applied biofuel in Europe.
To maintain and expand the production of Biodiesel, new feedstock sources are required.
- The ‘food for fuel’ discussion forces Western economies to look for other energy sources
- Rapeseed oil as the major feedstock, becomes too expensive for Biodiesel producers
- The rapidly growing demand for edible oils in China and India boosts vegetable oil prices. In Europe we consume approx. 50 liters/person vegetable oil year, in China and India it is only 10 liters/person year but will double within the next 5 years! This will lead to a further price increase of edible/vegetable oils.
- Alternative feedstocks like algae, animal fats, used cooking oils , waste fats and other vegetable oils (f.e. Jatropha) stimulate new industries in western and also in developing countries.
Because of this, Rape seed oil becomes less and less applicable for the production of biodiesel in Europe. However the application of other feedstocks is currently difficult, because the biodiesel produced does not always meet the (theoretical) EN14214. Based on our large and international experience Solarix knows that the functional and technical applicability of other feedstocks is as good as rapeseed oil, and in some cases even better!
Solarix has carried out lab analysis, endurance tests, engine tests and emission tests and we came to the conclusion that other biodiesel feed stocks easily can replace fossil diesel and Biodiesel (R.M.E.) made according to EN 14214.
There are even more important benefits to the use of alternative feed stocks:
- Extensive grown oil crops, like Jatropha, can be grown on marginal lands and do not compete with feed crops (No Food for Fuel) and contribute to economies in developing countries;
- Alternative oil crops like algae, palm and Jatropha have a much higher oil yield/ha compared to rape seed;
- Alternative feed stocks, like animal fat and used cooking oils are currently treated as ‘waste’ and have almost no, or very low, ‘added value’;
- Waste oils have great CO2 benefits, waste products are converted in a high quality biofuel;
- Application of alternative feed stocks stimulates innovation and R&D;
- Glycerol, a rest product in the production of Fame/Biodiesel, can be converted into a biofuel which could be added to the Fame/Biodiesel. This increases the Biodiesel output with the existing feedstock already with at least 10%!
Why then keep hold of this EN14214?
More than 95% of all Biodiesel made in Europe (approx. 6 million ton) is produced from Rapeseed oil. The main reason for this is the fact that the quality standard (EN14214) for European Biodiesel is mainly based on rapeseed oil as a feedstock.
This EN 14214 norm is drafted in Germany quit a long time ago. The Germans formulated this EN14214 frame to create new future for (German) farmers by growing rapeseed. Rapeseed is a one of the best grow able oil crops in Europe . (the American norm (ASTM D 6751) for Biodiesel is mainly based on Soya been Oil (S.M.E. Soy Methyl Ester) as a feedstock, because Soybeans is the best grow able oil crop in USA).
The application of ‘new’ feed stocks are very limited because the final product, Biodiesel, can not be sold (or for a lower price) to the Oil companies, because it is not in accordance with the rape - EN14214.
Solarix pleads for new quality standards
Solarix has started up a lobby at the EU commission to question the EN14214. It is very strange that quality biodiesel made from an alternative source, can not be sold to oil companies, because it does not meet standards that are made for rape seed oil.
As said before: biodiesel produced of other feed stock have the same technical and functional qualities or even better than rape – biodiesel. The chemical composition of Biodiesel/FAME from other feedstock is the same as rape-biodiesel. They are both a fatty acid connected with an alcohol. The fatty acid composition determines the characteristics of the biodiesel.
The points mentioned above urge to build a new quality standard for Biodiesel. The current situation will lead to a stand still in the production of Biodiesel in the near future. In fact we reached this point already due to the high prices of rapeseed-oil.
The European Union is by far the largest producer of Biodiesel in the world (6 million tonnes). In EU countries already 9 billion euro is invested in Biodiesel production. Only in Germany 200,000 people are involved in the production of Biodiesel. Besides this Europe exports a lot of knowledge and expertise to other countries starting the production of Biodiesel. Biodiesel has obtained a sound position as the most reliable and renewable biofuel in EU. This offers great opportunities for farmers, agri-business and industry. Currently millions of hectares are un-used and lie fallow in EU. Those lands can be grown with alternative oil crops or crops for ethanol usage. Alternative oil crops, besides rape seed, also spreads the financial risks for farmers.
To replace a real substantial amount of fossil diesel by Biodiesel more acreage is needed. This can not be found in EU. Africa can offer a possible solution in this because, Africa is relatively near by and has a good climate and soils that can be used to grow alternative extensive oil crops. This stimulates development of the African countries and can reduce erosion.
The draft of a new Quality standard for Biodiesel opens new opportunities for Africa and for European industries. It makes Europe less dependent from volatile rapeseed prices and less dependent on the current unstable oil producing countries. Besides this, employment (and money) will remain within EU and the possibility comes to replace more fossil diesel for Biodiesel in a higher amount as currently in Kyoto agreed upon.
Solarix B.V. , The Netherlands
Drs. Ing. Jan Hein Hoitsma, director