IMPROVING THE PERFORMANCE OF ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND CO-PRODUCTS FROM VEGETABLE OILS
Location: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research
Title: Biodiesel Production, Properties, and Feedstocks
Submitted to: In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plants
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2009
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Citation: Moser, B.R. 2009. Biodiesel Production, Properties, and Feedstocks. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plants. 45:229-266.
Biodiesel, defined as the mono-alkyl esters of vegetable oils or animal fats, is an environmentally attractive alternative to conventional petroleum diesel fuel. Produced by transesterification of vegetable oils, animal fats, waste greases, and other lipid-containing materials with a monohydric alcohol, usually methanol, biodiesel has many important technical advantages over petrodiesel, such as inherent lubricity, low toxicity, derivation from a renewable and domestic feedstock, superior flash point and biodegradability, negligible sulfur content, and lower exhaust emissions of most regulated species. Important disadvantages of biodiesel include high feedstock cost, higher regulated NOx exhaust emissions, inferior storage stability, and inferior low temperature operability. This review covers the process by which biodiesel is prepared, the types of catalysts that may be used for the production of biodiesel, the effect of free fatty acids on biodiesel production, the use of different alcohols in the preparation of biodiesel, the influence of biodiesel composition on important fuel properties, the influence of blending biodiesel with other fuels on fuel properties, alternative uses for biodiesel, and value-added uses of glycerol, a co-product of biodiesel production. A particular emphasis is placed on alternative feedstocks for biodiesel production, as exploration of new sources for biodiesel is an important factor in the continued development and survival of the biodiesel industry. Lastly, future challenges and outlook for biodiesel are discussed.