Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oils can be used to make biodiesel, which can be used like conventional diesel. Some vegetable oil blends are used in unmodified vehicles but straight vegetable oil, also known as pure plant oil, needs specially prepared vehicles which have a method of heating the oil to reduce its viscosity. The vegetable oil economy is growing and the availability of biodiesel around the world is increasing.

The production process of vegetable oil involves the removal of oil from plant components, typically seeds. This can be done via mechanical extraction using an oil mill or chemical extraction using a solvent. The extracted oil can then be purified and, if required, refined or chemically altered.

An oil mill is a grinding mill designed to crush or bruise oil-bearing seeds, such as linseed or peanuts, or other oil-rich vegetable material, such as olives or the fuit of the oil palm, which can then be pressed to extract vegetable oils, which may used as foods or for cooking, as oleochemical feedstocks, a lubricant, or as a biofuel. The pomace or press cake – the remaining solid material from which the oil has been extracted – may also be used as a food or fertilizer.

Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl (methyl, ethyl, or propyl) esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids (e.g., vegetable oil, animal fat (tallow) with an alcohol producing fatty acid esters.

Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone, or blended with petrodiesel. Biodiesel can also be used as a low carbon alternative to heating oil.  The NNFCC estimate that the total net greenhouse gas savings when using vegetable oils in place of fossil fuel-based alternatives for fuel production, range from 18 to 100%

A large quantity of used vegetable oil is produced and recycled, mainly from industrial deep fryers in potato processing plants, snack food factories and fast food restaurants.  Recycled or waste vegetable oil (WVO) has numerous uses, including use as a direct fuel, as well as in the production of biodiesel.

Oil Producing Crops
Plant Yield (seed) lbs/acre Biodiesel gal/acre
Corn 7800 18
Oats 3600 23
Cotton 1000 35
Soybean 2000 48
Mustard 1400 61
Camelina 1500 62
Crambe 1000 65
Safflower 1500 83
Rice 6600 88
Sunflower 1200 100
Peanut 2800 113
Rapeseed/Canola 2000 127
Coconut** 3600 287
Oil palm** 6251 635
** Yield given in lbs of oil/acre