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Current and Potential Biofuel Production from Plant Oils

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Abstract

Environmental concerns and depletion of fossil fuels along with government policies have led to the search for alternative fuels from various renewable and sustainable feedstocks. This review provides a critical overview of the chemical composition of common commercial plant oils, i.e., palm oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, castor oil, WCO, and CTO and their recent trends toward potential biofuel production. Plant oils with a high energy content are primarily composed of triglycerides (generally > 95%), accompanied by diglycerides, monoglycerides, and free fatty acids. The heat content of plant oils is close to 90% for diesel fuels. The oxygen content is the most important difference in chemical composition between fossil oils and plant oils. Triglycerides can even be used directly in diesel engines. However, their high viscosity, low volatility, and poor cold flow properties can lead to engine problems. These problems require that plant oils need to be upgraded if they are to be used as a fuel in conventional diesel engines. Biodiesel, biooil, and renewable diesel are the three major biofuels obtained from plant oils. The main constraint associated with the production of biodiesel is the cost and sustainability of the feedstock. The renewable diesel obtained from crude tall oil is more sustainable than biofuels obtained from other feedstocks. The fuel properties of renewable diesel are similar to those of fossil fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In this review, the chemical composition of common commercial plant oils, i.e., palm oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, castor oil, and tall oil, are presented. Both their major and minor components are discussed. Their compositions and fuel properties are compared to both fossil fuels and biofuels.

Keywords

Plant oil Crude tall oil Biodiesel Biooil Renewable diesel 

Acronyms

ai

Anteiso

B5

5% biodiesel blend

B100

100% biodiesel

BTG

Biomass to gas

BTL

Biomass to liquid

CTO

Crude tall oil

CTOS

Crude tall oil soap

C12:0

Lauric acid

C14:0

Myristic acid

C16:0

Palmitic acid

C18:0

Stearic acid

C18:1

Oleic acid

C18:2

Linoleic acid

C18:3

Linolenic acid

C22:1

Erucic acid

DG

Diglyceride

D2

No. 2 diesel fuel

FA

Fatty acid

FAME

Fatty acid methyl ester

FFA

Free fatty acid

HHV

Higher heating value

HVO

Hydrotreated vegetable oil

L

Linoleic acid

LLO

Linoleic-linoleic-oleic acid

Ln

Linolenic acid

LnLO

Linolenic-linoleic-oleic acid

LnOO

Linolenic-oleic-oleic acid

LOO

Linoleic-oleic-oleic acid

LOP

Linoleic-oleic-palmitic acid

MG

Monoglyceride

O

Oleic acid

OO

Oleic-oleic acid

OOO

Oleic-oleic-oleic acid

P

Palmitic acid

PLO

Palmitic-linoleic-oleic acid

PLP

Palmitic-linoleic-palmitic acid

PO

Palmitic-oleic acid

POL

Palmitic-oleic-linoleic acid

POO

Palmitic-oleic-oleic acid

POP

Palmitic-oleic-palmitic acid

PP

Palmitic-palmitic acid

PPP

Palmitic-palmitic-palmitic acid

RA

Resin acid

sn

Substituent

TG

Triglyceride

TOFA

Tall oil fatty acid

TRL

Technology readiness level

WCO

Waste cooking oil

Notes

Acknowledgements

The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation in Finland is gratefully acknowledged for the financial support.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Production SystemsKokkolaFinland
  2. 2.Laboratory of Applied ChemistryUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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