prepared by NEEIC
Biodiesel Fact Sheet http://www.neeic.org
Transesterification Market Overview Gasification
The most well-established technology for Biomass is converted into a gaseous
biodiesel production is transesterification. mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, &
carbon dioxide by applying heat under
The process involves filtering the pressure in the presence of steam and a
feedstock (vegetable oil or animal fats) to controlled amount of oxygen.
remove water and contaminants, and then
mixing the feedstock with methanol and a The biomass is chemically broken apart
catalyst. by heat, steam, and oxygen, setting into
Biodiesel made up 84% of the 3 Mtoe of motion chemical reactions that produce a
This process causes the oil molecules to
break apart and reform into esters
all biofuels produced and consumed in synthesis gas, “syngas,”- a mixture of
the European Union in 2005. Germany hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon
(biodiesel) and glycerol, which are then
accounted for 62% of EU biodiesel dioxide.
separated from each other and purified. A
output, with the rest coming from France,
by-product of this process is glycerine,
Italy, and Spain. The United States The Fischer-Tropsch process converts
which is used in many types of cosmetics,
produced 220 ktoe of biodiesel in 2005. syngas into diesel fuel.
medicines, and foods.
Biodiesel Production Costs Key Drivers in the European Union
The cost of producing biodiesel depends on the type of feedstock
and conversion technology. The current cost of biodiesel
European biodiesel production tripled between 2000 and
production is estimated to be $0.60/litre of diesel equivalent in
2005 due to the adoption of strong national incentives in
Europe (based on rapeseed) and $0.50/litre in the United States
an attempt to meet E.U. targets.
(based on soybeans). Production costs are projected to fall to just
of $0.30/litre in the U.S. and $0.40/litre in the E.U.
Under the EU Common Agricultural Policy and a trade
agreement with the U.S., set-aside land (land left fallow in
return for subsidy payments) can be used to grow biofuels
crops up to 1 million tons of soybean equivalent per year.
Member states are permitted to levy lower excise taxes
on biofuels than on conventional fuels.
Several countries provide financial incentives for
investment in biorefineries.
2003 European directive requires all member states to
set non-binding targets for a minimum share of biofuels in
the road-transport fuels markets.
Biodiesel Emissions U.S. Biodiesel Production Capacity
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel • Presently 148 companies have invested in the development of
production and use, in comparison to petroleum diesel, biodiesel manufacturing plants and are actively marketing
produces 78.5% few carbon dioxide emissions. biodiesel.
Biodiesel is also the only alternative fuel to submit a • Annual production capacity from existing biodiesel plants is 1.39
complete evaluation of emissions results and health billion gallons per year.
effects to the U.S. EPA under the Clean Air Act Section • 96 companies have reported that their plants are under
211(b): construction and will be completed within the next 18 months.
• The ozone forming potential of biodiesel hydrocarbons • An additional 5 plants are expanding their existing operations.
is less than petroleum diesel fuel. • New production capacity has the potential to add 1.89 billion
• Sulfur emissions are essentially eliminated. gallons of biodiesel per year.
• Reductions in carbon monoxide, particulates, Biodiesel Production Plants under Construction as of June 2007
hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.
U.S. EPA: Biodiesel Impacts on Exhaust Emissions