Rapeseed - Biodiesel


Rapeseed oil is used as diesel fuel, either as biodiesel, straight in heated fuel systems, or blended with petroleum distillates for powering motor vehicles. Biodiesel may be used in pure form in newer engines without engine damage and is frequently combined with fossil-fuel diesel in ratios varying from 2% to 20% biodiesel. Owing to the costs of growing, crushing, and refining rapeseed biodiesel, rapeseed-derived biodiesel from new oil costs more to produce than standard diesel fuel, so diesel fuels are commonly made from the used oil. Rapeseed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, accounting for about 80% of the feedstock, partly because rapeseed produces more oil per unit of land area compared to other oil sources, such as soybeans, but primarily because canola oil has a significantly lower gel point than most other vegetable oils. An estimated 66% of total rapeseed oil supply in the European Union is expected to be used for biodiesel production in the 2010-2011 year.

Rapeseed is currently grown with a high level of nitrogen-containing fertilisers, and the manufacture of these generates N2O, a potent greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2. An estimated 3-5% of nitrogen provided as fertilizer for rapeseed is converted to N2O.

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