Waste, fats-based biodiesel no cure-all - Desmet

15 April 2008 00:38  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS news)--Alternative feedstocks such as recycled cooking oil, animal fats and recovered corn oil from the manufacture of ethanol can be costly for biodiesel production because of their higher levels of contaminants, an executive with engineering and technology firm Desmet Ballestra said on Monday.

“There is no such thing as free lunch with these cheaper feedstock,” said Desmet biodiesel product manager at the the SODEOPEC (Soap, Detergent, Oleochemicals and Personal Care) conference in Orlando. “They contain substantial amount of contaminants that may require a large degree of pre-treatment resulting in added processing costs.”

Mitchell noted the biodiesel industry’s growing interest in cheaper feedstocks because of surging vegetable oils prices.

Among other alternative feedstock that are being looked into, oil from algae is said to be the most probable bright spot for the biodiesel industry.

“Algal oil is very interesting as it does not compete for acreage and it can grow virtually anywhere,” Mitchell said. “The use of algae will completely change the fundamental economics of the industry.”

Feedstock availability is currently the greatest impediment to biodiesel’s growth, said Mitchell. Feedstock comprises almost 85% of total production costs by most plant economics.

Feedstock costs of rapeseed oil and palm oil as of 9 April were even higher than their corresponding biodiesel B100 pricing, Mitchell said. Crude rapeseed oil was quoted around $1,496/tonne (€957/tonne) while rapeseed oil-based B100 pricing was around $1,440-1,470/tonne.

Refined, bleached and deodorised (RBD) palm oil price was at $1,266/tonne while its corresponding B99 to B100 biodiesel prices were quoted around $1,150 to $1,190/tonne.

Crude soy oil price was quoted at $1,259/tonne while soy-based B99 to B100 biodiesel was said to be around $1,320 to $1,370/tonne, said Mitchell.

“This gives a very sobering indication of what the economics are like for the current biodiesel industry,” he said.

The three-day conference, which is hosted by the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS), ends on Wednesday.

 ($1 = €0.64)

Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels

By: Doris de Guzman
+1 713 525 2653

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