Biodiesel is a fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fats. Biodiesel’s most common feedstock remains rapeseed oil, accounting for 49% of total production in 2015 but its position is decreasing considerably, mostly due to the higher use of recycled vegetable oil/used cooking oil (UCO). In fact, UCO has become the second-most important feedstock, led by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Palm oil came in third place in terms of feedstock followed by sunflower oil (3% of the total biodiesel feedstock). More specific sources of biofuel such as wood, fatty acids or cottonseed oil are used depending on local/national production.
Biodiesel results from a chemical transformation of a fat (transesterification), which makes it less viscous. This fat can have various origins:
- Oils of annual oilseed crops such as rapeseed, maize, sunflower, soya …
- Perennial oilseed oils such as palm or palm kernel
- Used oils and fats from households and HORECA
- By-products of the wood industry
- Oil from algae or microalgae
Biodiesel can be used either as fuel in vehicles or as fuel in boilers, generators or cogeneration engines for the production of heat and / or electricity. Biodiesel can be used in various proportions in road vehicles.