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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Vegetable Oil-Based Fuels, Additives and Coproducts

Location: Bio-oils Research Unit

2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Improve the fuel properties and performance of vegetable oils and their derivatives as alternative fuels, extenders, and additives in the operation of compression-ignition (diesel) engines for on-road and off-road applications. Address technical problems identified by stakeholders and customers. Specific objectives for this project are:.
1)Enable new commercially-viable alternative fuel formulations with improved cold weather start-up and operability performance without compromising fuel quality as defined by appropriate standard fuel specifications;.
2)Enable new commercially-viable biodiesel formulations with improved storage stability with respect to oxidative degradation. Develop rapid measurement methods for monitoring effects of degradation on biodiesel fuel quality during storage, as defined by appropriate standard fuel specifications;.
3)Enable new, commercially-viable biodiesel fuels derived from novel oilseed crops (especially inedible plant species), vegetable oils with modified fatty ester composition, and non-traditional feedstocks such as algae and biomass;.
4)Enable new, commercially-viable analytical methods for biodiesel and its minor constituents and other fuel quality issues to enhance market acceptance of biodiesel fuels; and.
5)Develop technologies that expand the markets for glycerol by enabling the commercial conversion of glycerol and its derivatives to chemicals and components in products such as surfactants, emulsifiers, fuel additives, dispersants and/or flocculating agents as well as biodegradable polymer products such as polyesters, polyethers and polyurethanes.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Biodiesel is an alternative diesel fuel derived from vegetable oils, animal fats, used oils or algae and other biomass feedstocks. While it is competitive with (in some aspects even technically superior to) petroleum-derived diesel fuel, its use is still affected by technical and supply issues that hinder more widespread commercialization. This project proposes to improve the fuel properties of vegetable oils as well as other feedstocks and their derivatives as alternative diesel fuels, extenders, and additives in the operation of compression-ignition (diesel) engines for on-road and off-road applications. Specific objectives for this project include: .
1)Improve cold weather start-up and operability;.
2)Enhance understanding of oxidative stability and provide methods for its improvement;.
3)Provide novel fuel formulations, including alternative and conventional feedstocks with different fatty acid profiles as well as novel additives;.
4)Develop analytical methods for minor constituents of biodiesel and other fuel quality issues and.
5)Development of specialty chemicals and products such as biodegradable polymers from biodiesel co-products (glycerol). Overall, this research will lead to technically improved biodiesel fuels that are more competitive in the marketplace, enhanced analyses, and new, economically competitive and environmentally friendly products from glycerol.


3.Progress Report
Progress was made on numerous critical research areas. Tests were performed on cold soak filterability of biodiesel after storage at low temperatures. The effects of water and other minor constituents present in very small concentrations of biodiesel were examined. The impacts of high-melting point compounds on crystallization in fatty acid methyl ester mixtures at low temperatures were studied. Various alternative feedstocks for biodiesel were evaluated with the goal of increasing biodiesel supply. Feedstocks with alternative fatty acid composition were investigated for biodiesel fuel property improvement. Structure-property relationships for biodiesel components were established. Additives for biodiesel to improve cold flow and oxidative stability were tested.

Collaborated with the Agricultural Research Service Eastern Regional Research Center on synthesis and testing of new cold flow additives for biodiesel and biolubricants.

Ten collaborations with various universities/institutions on combustion, fuel properties, fuel composition, and biodiesel education.

Collaborated on developing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with an industrial partner to develop biodiesel as fuel in lean-burning engines with plasma-injection systems.


4.Accomplishments
1. Fuel properties of biodiesel/ultra-low sulfur petrodiesel blends. The influence of blending biodiesel with petrodiesel on overall fuel properties is not well understood. For more widespread distribution of biodiesel into the marketplace and reduced dependence on imported petroleum, such effects must be understood for customer acceptance. Biodiesel made from soybean, palm, rapeseed, and used cooking oils was blended with ultra-low sulfur petrodiesel (maximum sulfur content = 0.0015 mass percent) and tested for cold flow properties, density, viscosity (thickness), and other fuel properties employed to characterize diesel fuels by Bio-Oils Research Unit scientists at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL. Results were compared with corresponding data for biodiesel in blends with petrodiesel with higher sulfur content (0.05 mass percent). Additionally, calibration curves were developed to analyze volume percent of biodiesel by measuring fuel properties of the blends. Results from this work will contribute to a scientific database on the properties of biodiesel/ultra-low sulfur petrodiesel blends, provide useful information to fuel producers, distributors, scientists, and engineers, and promote the use of biodiesel in blends with conventional diesel fuel.

2. Biodiesel from alternative oilseed feedstocks. Since there is a limited supply of commodity vegetable oils available for producing biodiesel, the search for additional oils or fats that can serve as feedstocks or improvement of current production procedures is critical. Oils that were evaluated by Bio-Oils Research Unit scientists at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, for biodiesel applications included anise, aragula, camelina, coriander, cottonseed, cumin, cuphea, field pennycress, hazelnut, jojoba, macadamia, meadowfoam, upland cress, walnut, and wild mustard. Such oils can be used as alternative biodiesel feedstocks that do not displace existing agricultural production. As is the case with biodiesel from other oils, some technical problems exist in terms of properties requiring optimization. Overall, such work will contribute to enhancing the supply of biodiesel and reduce dependence on petroleum-based diesel fuel.

3. Biodiesel with improved properties. Not only is increasing the potential supply of biodiesel critical, but the fuel must meet certain performance criteria. Bio-Oils Research Unit scientists at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, evaluated several oils for their potential to improve properties due to their different composition or to serve as models for commodity oils with different composition. These oils include cuphea, field pennycress and macadamia. The results provide guidance for future work to make biodiesel with improved properties available on a larger scale, thereby enhancing its competitivenss with conventional diesel fuel.


Review Publications
Moser, B.R., Vaughn, S.F. 2010. Coriander Seed Oil Methyl Esters as Biodiesel Fuel: Unique Fatty Acid Composition and Excellent Oxidative Stability. Biomass and Bioenergy. 34:550-558.

Knothe, G.H. 2010. Biodiesel Derived from a Feedstock Enriched in Palmitoleic Acid, Macadamia Nut Oil. Energy and Fuels. 24:2098-2103.

Moser, B.R., Knothe, G.H., Cermak, S.C. 2010. Biodiesel from Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba L.) Seed Oil: Exceptional Oxidative Stability and Unusual Fatty Acid Composition. Energy and Environmental Science. 3:318-327.

Dunn, R.O. 2009. Cold Flow Properties of Soybean Oil Fatty Acid Monoalkyl Ester Admixtures. Energy and Fuels. 23:4082-4091.

Dunn, R.O. 2009. Effects of Minor Constituents on Cold Flow Properties and Performance of Biodiesel. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science (PECS). 35:481-489.

Knothe, G.H. 2010. Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel: A Comparison. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science (PECS). 36:364-373.

Jham, G.N., Moser, B.R., Shah, S.N., Holser, R.A., Dhingra, O.D., Vaughn, S.F., Berhow, M.A., Moser, J.K., Isbell, T., Holloway, R.K., Walter, E.L., Natalino, R., Anderson, J.A., Stelly, D.M. 2009. Wild Brazilian Mustard (Brassica Juncea L.) Seed Oil Methyl Esters as Biodiesel Fuel. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 86(1):917-926.

Joshi, H., Moser, B.R., Toler, J., Smith, B., Walker, T. 2010. Effects of Blending Alcohols with Poultry Fat Methyl Esters on Cold Flow Properties. Renewable Energy. 35:2207-2210.

Moser, B.R., Knothe, G.H., Vaughn, S.F., Isbell, T. 2009. Production and Evaluation of Biodiesel from Field Pennycress (Thlaspi Arvense L.) Oil. Energy and Fuels. 23:4149-4155.

Moser, B.R., Shah, S.N., Moser, J.K., Vaughn, S.F., Evangelista, R.L. 2009. Composition and Physical Properties of Cress (Lepidium sativum L.) and Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) Oils. Industrial Crops and Products. 30:199-205.

Moser, B.R., Williams, A., Haas, M.J., Mccormick, R.L. 2009. Exhaust Emissions and Fuel Properties of Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil Methyl Esters Blended with Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel. Fuel Processing Technology. 90:1122-1128.

Shah, S.N., Sharma, B.K., Moser, B.R., Erhan, S.Z. 2010. Preparation and Evaluation of Jojoba Oil Methyl Ester as Biodiesel and as Blend Components in Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel. BioEnergy Research. 3:214-223.

Shah, S.N., Sharma, B.K., Moser, B.R. 2010. Preparation of Biofuel Using Acetylatation of Jojoba Fatty Alcohols and Assessment as a Blend Component in Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel. Energy and Fuels. 24:3189-3194.

Joshi, H., Moser, B.R., Toler, J., Walker, T. 2010. Preparation and Fuel Properties of Mixtures of Soybean Oil Methyl and Ethyl Esters. Biomass and Bioenergy. 34:14-20.

Dunn, R.O. 2010. Cold Flow Properties of Biodiesel by Automatic and Manual Analysis Methods. Journal of ASTM International. 7(4):1-15.

Dunn, R.O. 2010. Other Alternative Diesel Fuels from Vegetable Oils and Animal Fats. In: Knothe, G., Krahl, J., Van Gerpen, J., editors. The Biodiesel Handbook. 2nd edition. Urbana, IL: AOCS Press. p. 405-438.

Shah, S.N., Moser, B.R., Sharma, B.K. 2010. Glycerol Tri-Ester Derivatives as Diluents to Improve Low Temperature Properties of Vegetable Oils. Journal of ASTM International. 7:1-10.

Dunn, R.O., Moser, B.R. 2010. Cold weather properties and performance of biodiesel. In: Knothe, G., Krahl, J., and Van Gerpen, J., editors. The Biodiesel Handbook. Urbana, IL: AOCS Press. p. 147-203.

Knothe, G.H. 2010. Biodiesel: Current Trends and Properties. Topics in Catalysis. 53(11-12):714-720.

Knothe, G.H., Dunn, R.O. 2009. A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Melting Points of Fatty Acids and Esters Determined by Differential Scanning Calorimetry. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 86(1):843-856.

Moser, B.R., Vaughn, S.F. 2010. Evaluation of Alkyl Esters from Camelina Sativa Oil as Biodiesel and as Blend Components in Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel. Bioresource Technology. 101:646-653.

Rashid, U., Anwar, F., Knothe, G.H. 2009. Evaluation of Biodiesel Obtained from Cottonseed Oil. Energy and Fuels. 90(1):1157-1163.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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