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Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

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Plant oils as fuels for compression ignition engines: A technical review

and life-cycle analysis
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies*
Sustainable Environment Research Group, Engineering Systems and Management, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: As an alternative fuel for compression ignition engines, plant oils are in principle renewable and carbon-
Received 6 November 2008 neutral. However, their use raises technical, economic and environmental issues. A comprehensive and
Accepted 12 May 2009 up-to-date technical review of using both edible and non-edible plant oils (either pure or as blends with
Available online 16 June 2009
fossil diesel) in CI engines, based on comparisons with standard diesel fuel, has been carried out. The
properties of several plant oils, and the results of engine tests using them, are reviewed based on the
literature. Findings regarding engine performance, exhaust emissions and engine durability are collated.
Plant oil
The causes of technical problems arising from the use of various oils are discussed, as are the modi-
CI engine
Biodiesel cations to oil and engine employed to alleviate these problems. The review shows that a number of plant
Performance oils can be used satisfactorily in CI engines, without transesterication, by preheating the oil and/or
Emissions modifying the engine parameters and the maintenance schedule. As regards life-cycle energy and
Life-cycle greenhouse gas emission analyses, these reveal considerable advantages of raw plant oils over fossil
diesel and biodiesel. Typical results show that the life-cycle output-to-input energy ratio of raw plant oil
is around 6 times higher than fossil diesel. Depending on either primary energy or fossil energy
requirements, the life-cycle energy ratio of raw plant oil is in the range of 26 times higher than cor-
responding biodiesel. Moreover, raw plant oil has the highest potential of reducing life-cycle GHG
emissions as compared to biodiesel and fossil diesel.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction the transesterication process. Though plant oil provides a renew-

able fuel in principle, this recent growth has nonetheless provoked
The use of plant oils in compression ignition (CI) engines is not criticisms due to life-cycle emissions and energy requirements, and
new; on the contrary, Rudolf Diesel tested and demonstrated his to social impacts connected with land use change [36].
very rst engines with peanut oil over 100 years ago. Fossil diesel The CI engine has become a ubiquitous prime mover: it powers
soon took over as the standard fuel, however, and during the 20th the majority of the worlds shipping, most road freight haulage,
century plant oils were used but sporadically when fossil diesel a large fraction of automobiles and railway locomotives not to
became scarce. Only recently has the consumption of fuels derived mention stationary engines for back-up and island supplies,
from plant oil grown to represent a small but signicant fraction of combined heat and power (CHP) schemes and irrigation pumps
worldwide diesel usage, currently about 0.7% [1,2], virtually all of across the developing world. It is also very efcient, achieving over
which is in the form of biodiesel obtained from raw plant oils via 45% in larger engines. Despite these technological successes, the
environmental implications of diesel fuel use are grave. In 2007 the
world consumption of diesel exceeded 40 EJ of primary energy [1],
leading to the release of about 3  1012 kg of CO2 into the atmo-
Abbreviations: AC, air cooled; B20, blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% fossil diesel;
BSEC, brake specic energy consumption; BSFC, brake specic fuel consumption; sphere. Consequently, the need for alternative fuels is likely to
bTDC, before top dead centre; CD, carbon deposition; CHP, combined heat and persist in the foreseeable future.
power; CI, compression ignition; DI, direct injection; GHG, greenhouse gas; GWP, The focus of this study is on the use of raw plant oils. (The
global warming potential; HC, hydrocarbon; II, indirect injection; IP, injection adjective raw is used here to distinguish from biodiesel, while
pressure; IT, injection timing; IV, iodine value; RME, rape methyl ester; SI, spark
pure is used to distinguish from blends of plant oils with fossil
ignition; SMD, Sauter mean diameter; WC, water cooled.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 44(0)1212043724; fax: 44(0)1212043683. diesel.) Earlier studies have cast doubts on the environmental
E-mail address: (P.A. Davies). benets of using biodiesel because of GHG emissions [3]. Raw oils

0960-1481/$ see front matter 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

Table 1 Calorific value Density Cetane number

Examples of potential edible and non-edible plant oils for use in CI engines.

change from fossil diesel

Edible oil Non-edible oil
Sunower oil, Rapeseed oil, Rice bran oil, Jatropha oil, Karanji or Pongamia oil,
Soybean oil, Coconut oil, Corn oil, Palm Neem oil, Jojoba oil, Cottonseed oil, 5
oil, Olive oil, Pistachia Palestine oil, Linseed oil, Mahua oil,, 0
Sesame seed oil, Peanut oil, Opium Deccan hemp oil, Kusum oil,
Poppy oil, Safower oil Orange oil, Rubber seed oil -5
offer a potential environmental advantage, provided various tech-
nical criteria can be met. -20
Previous reviews in this area include that of Ramadhas et al. [7] -25


Opium poppy
Sesame seed
Rice bran
Rubber seed
Deccan hemp
who collated engine performance and exhaust emission results and
presented a graphical comparison of engine performance and
emission for ve different types of plant oils and their methyl esters
in comparison to fossil diesel. Bhattacharyya and Reddy [8]
compared performance, emissions and some durability aspects for Fig. 1. Properties of plant oil (both edible and non-edible) as compared to fossil diesel:
eight different plant oils (either pure or blended). Kowalewicz and caloric value, density and cetane number.
Wojtyniak [9] reviewed the physiochemical properties and tech-
nological aspects of production of different types of alternative cycle energy and GHG emission analysis in comparison to fossil and
fuels (liquid, including plant oils, and gaseous) for use in both CI biodiesel use. Following on from the earlier reviews mentioned
and SI engines. Russi [3] discussed the life-cycle energy ratio of above, we set out to provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date
biodiesel production and assessed other environmental impacts of study, covering both technical and environmental issues. Social
large-scale biodiesel production in Italy. Escobar et al. [10] reported impacts, though important, remain mostly outside the scope of this
various gures for life-cycle energy ratio of different biodiesels, study. Here the term plant oil refers to oil from land-based plants
according to the plant source and country of production. and does not cover aquatic algae.
With the aim of investigating the potential of raw plant oils for
CI engines, the objectives of this study are to (i) review the technical 2. Technical review
experience of CI engines running on plant oils in comparison to
standard fossil diesel; and (ii) assess the aggregated environmental With regard to the rst objective, the review covers oil prop-
implications of plant oils as fuels in CI engines, by means of life- erties, engine performance (brake power output, brake specic fuel

Table 2
Comparative properties of fossil diesel, edible and non-edible plant oils and biodiesels.

CI engine fuel Properties Ref.

Common name Latin/botanical Caloric value Density Flash point Pour point Kinematic Carbon Cetane Iodine value
name (kJ/kg) (kg/m3) ( C) ( C) viscosity residues number (IV)
at 27  C (cSt) (% w/w)
Diesel 43,350 815 4560 6.70 4.30 0.030.1 47.0 [1115]
Sunower oil Helianthus annuus 39,525 918 73 15.0 58.50 0.23 37.1 125 [12,1619]
Cottonseed oil Gossypium hirsutum 39,648 912 234 15.0 50.10 0.42 48.1 105 [12,16,18
Soybean oil Glycine max 39,623 914 254 12.2 65.40 0.27 38.0 130 [12,18,19,21]
Peanut oil Arachis hypogaea 39,800 903 271 6.7 39.60a 0.24 41.8 93 [19,21]
Corn oil Zea mays 37,825 915 277 40.0 46.30 0.24 37.6 103140 [12,16,18,19]
Opium poppy oil Papaver somniferum 38,920 921 56.10 [12]
Rapeseed oil Brassica napus 37,620 914 246 31.7 39.20 0.30 37.6 98 [12,18,19,21]
Sesame seed oil Sesamum indicum 39,300 913 260 9.4 35.50 0.25 40.2 104120 [16,19]
Palm oil Erythea salvadorensis 36,510 918 267 31.7 39.60a 42.0 54 [9,19,21]
Coconut oil Cocos nucifera 35,800 915 31.59 10 [16,22]
Mahua oil Madhuca indica 38,863 900 238 15.0 37.18b 0.42 [20,23]
Rice bran oil Oryza sativa 39,500 916 44.52b [20]
Jatropha oil Jatropha curcas 39,774 918 240 49.90 0.20/0.44 45.0 94 [11,13,14,18]
Pongamia oil Pongamia pinnata 34,000 912 263 37.12b [24,25]
Jojoba oil Simmondsia chinensis 42,761 863d 292 6.0 25.48b [18,26]
Rubber seed oil Hevea brasiliensis 37,500 922 198 33.91b 37 135.3 [27]
Deccan hemp oil Cannabis sativa 38,720 913 255 53.00e [28]
Jatropha 38,450 880 170 5.65 50.0 [13]
Soybean 33,500 885 178 7.0 4.50c 45.0 [19]
Pongamia 904 206 106.10b [17,29]
d b
40% jojoba: 60% 43,520 848 83 11.38 [26]
At 38  C.
At 40  C.
At 37.8  C.
At 23  C.
At 30  C.
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113 3

Table 3a
Review of comparative engine performance: edible plant oil and fossil diesel.

Plant oila (or blend) Engine specication Modication/ Comparison with fossil diesel fuel performance (% change) Ref.
adjustments and
Brake power/heat BSFC/BSECb Brake thermal/
operating condition
release rate mechanical efciency
Rapeseed oil AC engine No modication 2% 2% 2% [31]
15% rapeseed oil, 30% No modication 15% n/a n/a [32]
ethanol and 55% diesel
70% rapeseed oil 1-cylinder engine No modication 0 0 0 [33]
(winter):30% diesel
Rapeseed oil:diesel (0:100, Lister Petter AC, 1- Variable load and Lowest for rapeseed oil. Increased at high load. Increased for rapeseed [34]
25:75, 50:50, 75:25 and cylinder, II, 4.45 kW at constant speed at Increases as the amount Close to diesel value as oil. Increases as % of
100:0) 3000 rpm. 3000 rpm of diesel increases in diesel increases in rapeseed oil increases
blend. blend in blend.
Soybean oil DI, 9.3 kW at 2000 rpm No modication 0 10% 3% [35]
Sunower oil 1-cylinder, 2000 rpm Oil was pre-heated to 18% 18% n/a [12]
Rapeseed oil 80  C. Maximum power 3% 14.5% n/a
Corn oil at 1700 rpm. Minimum 4% 2% n/a
BSFC at 1300 rpm
Soybean oil No modication n/a 0 n/a [36]
Blend of oil (1)c and diesel No modication 0 0 0 [37]
Palm oil and diesel Oil was pre-heated to 6% higher peak pressure 0 0 [38]
80  C. Constant speed, obtained with palm oil
variable load
Coconut oil; coconut oil and AC, 1-cylinder, DI, Constant speed Peak heat release value BSFC up by 3436% (for Mechanical efciency [22]
diesel blend 6.25 kW at 3600 rpm. IT (2800 rpm) and for pure coconut oil is all load). BSEC showed was almost similar for

(20:80,40:60,60:40, 17 bTDC variable load operation lower than diesel slight increase each load condition
80:20) at 0.27 MPa, 0.39 MPa
and 0.50 MPa
Coconut oil, palm oil, diesel; Isuzu 4FB1 engine, 4- Variable speed 10% for palm oil:diesel 8.7% for palm n/a [39]
and coconut:diesel and cylinder operation at 800 blend. 6.8% for oil:diesel blend. 9.6%
palm:diesel (10:90, 3200 rpm coconut oil:diesel blend for coconut oil:diesel
20:80,30:70,40:60, 50:50) blend
Pistachia palestine oil:diesel Lister Petter engine, 1- Full load and at variable 5% for 20% oil blend. Increased as % of oil Decreased as % of oil [40]
(0:100, 5:95,10:90, 15:85, cylinder, 6 kW speeds: 1500, 1700, Decreases as the increases. Decreases increases. Increases
20:80) (maximum) 1900, 2100, 2300 rpm amount of oil increases with increase of speed with increase of speed
in blend.
Rice bran oil:diesel Kirloskar, 4 kW @ Constant speed n/a 20% oil blend showed Similar at low load. 30% [20]
(0:100,10:90,20:80,30:70) 1500 rpm, 1-cylinder, (at 1500 rpm) and min BSEC oil showed slightly
WC variable load higher
Plant oild Lister Petter, Rated Constant speed 1.5% (full load) 1.4% n/a [41]
power: 9.5 kW, (at 1500 rpm) and
1500 rpm at different loads

n/a: Not available.

By volume.
BSEC: brake specic energy consumption (kJ/kWh).
Oil (1): sunower, cottonseed, soybean and peanut oil.
Type unknown.

consumption, and brake thermal efciency), exhaust emissions and Viscosity is another important property as it affects the ow of
engine durability. fuel and spray characteristics (i.e. atomisation). Higher viscosity
leads to poorer combustion. Due to the large molecular size of the
2.1. Oil properties triglycerides making up about 98% of plant oils, viscosity is higher
and volatility lower than for fossil diesel (Table 2).
As indicated by Table 1, numerous plant oils have been tried in CI Flash point temperature indicates the overall ammability
engines at some time or other. Relatively few, however, have been hazard in the presence of air; higher ash points make for safe
systematically evaluated and used. Table 2 shows the properties of handling and storage. Pour point temperature is a measure of the
17 oils for which substantial data are available. Their deviations performance of fuels under cold temperature conditions. In the
from the properties of fossil diesel are shown graphically in Fig. 1. case of the edible plant oils reviewed here, ash point temperatures
On average the density of plant oils is 12% higher than that of fossil are higher whereas pour point temperatures are lower than for
diesel while their caloric value is around 10% lower. Note that the fossil diesel. On the other hand, for non-edible based plant oils both
caloric value is lower for more unsaturated oils, as a result of the these temperatures are much higher than for fossil diesel [2,11,30].
lower hydrogen content [20]. The iodine value (IV) is a measure of the number of double
Cetane number rates the ignition quality, i.e. the fuels readiness bonds; it increases with the level of unsaturation. It varies signi-
to ignite. Higher cetane number implies a shorter ignition delay and cantly among the plant oils considered (Table 2). The IV also indi-
tends to correspond to greater efciency, whereas low cetane cates oxidation stability; higher IV means lower oxidation stability.
number may produce knock in the engine. The location and number Oxidation can lead to polymerization.
of double bonds in the molecule structure affect the cetane number The carbon residue value correlates with the carbonaceous
[20]. For most plant oils, it is around 1020% lower than for fossil deposits inside the combustion chamber and injector systems. For
diesel (Fig. 1). plant oils it is considerably higher than for fossil diesel (Table 2).
4 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

Table 3b
Review of comparative engine performance: non-edible plant oil and fossil diesel.

Plant oila (or blend) Engine specication Modication/ Comparison with fossil diesel fuel performance (% change) Ref.
adjustments and
Brake power/heat BSFC/BSECb Brake thermal/
operating condition
release rate mechanical efciency
Rubber seed oil 1-cylinder, AC, Rated Constant speed, n/a 7% (BSEC full load) 11.3% (full load) [27]
power: 4.4 kW at variable load
1500 rpm
Deccan hemp oil (DHO) 1-cylinder, WC, DI, Pre-heated oil. Constant n/a 15.6% (BSFC); 6.4% 6%(full load) [28]
Rated power: 3.68 kW speed, variable load (BSEC) (full load)
DHO: diesel (50:50) at 1500 rpm n/a 0.2% (BSEC full load) 0.2% (full load)
Diesel:Jatropha (97.4:2.6, Lister Petter, 1-cylinder, Unheated and pre- Higher for 2.6% Jatropha Almost similar. 2.6% Increased for 100% oil [42]
80:20, 50:50) AC, DI, 4-stroke heated Jatropha oil. oil blend Jatropha oil blend and blends. 2.6% oil
Constant speed and showed slightly less showed highest
variable load consumption efciency
Jatropha with and without Kirloskar, 1-cylinder, Constant speed, n/a Increased for Jatropha Increased for pre- [43]

preheating to 80-90 C 7.4 kW at 1500 rpm, DI, variable load oil. Pre-heated oil BSFC heated Jatropha oil than
WC was lower than unheated Jatropha oil
unheated oil
Jatropha oil:diesel (10:90, 21% for Jatropha oil. Almost similar at low [43]
20:80, 50:50, Increases as % of oil loads. Decreases
75:25,100:0) increases in blend slightly as oil in blend
Jatropha oil 6 HP, AC, IT: 30.5 bTDC Established optimum Decreased peak n/a 9.96% [13]
and IP: 205 bar, Injector parameter: 32 bTDC, pressure and heat
plunger diameter 220 bar and 9 mm. release rate
8 mm Constant speed, full
Jatropha oil; diesel; and Kirloskar, 3.68 kW at IP and jacket water n/a Increased for Jatropha Decreased for Jatropha [11]
Jatropha and diesel blend 1500 rpm, 1-cylinder temp: 210 bar and oil and all blends and all blends. Lowest
55  C. Constant speed throughout the entire for 100% Jatropha
and variable load load range operation
Pongamia oil and diesel USHA, 2.6 kW, 1- Pongamia oil was pre- 2.9% (for 100% Increased for pure Decreases as oil [24]
(0:100,50:50,75:25,100:0) cylinder, AC heated to 60  C. pongamia oil) pongamia oil than increases. Lowest for
Constant speed diesel. pure pongamia
Jojoba oil and diesel (0:100, DEUTZ, 1-cylinder, AC, Constant speed, Almost similar for blend Increased slightly on n/a [26]
20:80,40:60,60:40) 5.8 kW at 1500 rpm variable load operation blend operation
Neem oil; rice bran oil; No modication n/a n/a Decreased by 14% [44]
karanji oil; diesel
Linseed oil:diesel Kirloskar, 4 kW at Constant speed (at n/a BSFC was lowest for Similar at low load. 50% [20]
(0:100,10:90,20:80,30:70, 1500 rpm, 1-cylinder, 1500 rpm) and variable 50% oil blend. BSECb oil blend showed
40:60, 50:50) WC load was almost same for all slightly higher than all
blend blend
Mahua oil:diesel n/a BSEC decreased at low Almost similar. 30%
(0:100,10:90,20:80,30:70) load. Similar at high blend showed highest
load efciency
Cottonseed oil 1-cylinder, 2000 rpm Oil was pre-heated at 18% 12.2% n/a [12]
80  C.
Orange oil AC, 4.4 kW at 1500 rpm Constant speed, Heat release rate higher 11% (BSEC at full load) 2.4% (at full load) [45]
variable load

n/a: Not available.

By volume.
BSEC: brake specic energy consumption (kJ/kWh).

2.2. Engine performance 40

Brake Power
change from fossil diesel

Researchers have tried different types of plant oils and Brake Thermal Efficiency
compared the engine performance with that using fossil diesel
under similar conditions. Because of the unusual properties of plant 10
oil, the characteristics of injection, atomisation and combustion
tend to differ. These variations can lead to difculties.
Combustion characteristics of plant oil fuelled engine operation -10
are inuenced greatly by the plant oil temperature, as shown in -20
Tables 3a and 3b. The literature shows signicant performance
variation obtained among different types of plant oils and in some
Rapeseed pure
Rapeseed pure
Rapeseed pure
Rapeseed blend
Soybean pure
Soybean pure
Sunflower pure
Oil (1) blend
Corn pure
Palm pure
Palm blend
Coconut pure
Coconut blend
Oil (2) pure
Jatropha pure
Jatropha pure
Pongamia pure
Jojoba blend
Oil (3) pure
Linseed blend
Mahua blend
Rice bran blend
Cottonseed pure
Orange pure
Deccan hemp pure
Deccan hemp blend
Rubber seed pure

cases even with the same type of oil (see Tables 3a and 3b). Variables
such as engine load, engine speed, feedstock homogeneity, ambient
conditions, engine brand, injection type (direct or indirect), and
instrumentation accuracy are the major causes behind this.

2.2.1. Brake power output

Fig. 2. Performance of CI engines running on pure plant oil (or blends with fossil
Tables 3a and 3b show that the brake power of engines diesel) as compared to fossil diesel (Oil (1): sunower, cottonseed, soybean, peanut; Oil
running on pure plant oils or blends varies in the range of 10% (2): unknown [41]; Oil (3): neem/rice bran/pongamia).
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113 5

Table 4a
Review of comparative engine exhaust emission analysis: edible plant oil and fossil diesel.

Plant oila Engine Modication/ Comparison with fossil diesel fuel performance (% change) Ref.
(or blend) specication and operating
Exhaust gas emissions (ppm) Exhaust gas SDc
temperature (Bosch
Diesel 1-cylinder, Fuel 0 (742) 0 (909.55) n/a 0 (628.28) n/a 0 (2.58) [30]
Sunower oil:diesel 3.7 kW at temperature: 12.5% 19.7% n/a 45.6% n/a 11.5%
(50:50) 1500 rpm, 5 C
Diesel Compression Fuel 0 (622.64) 0 (913.82) n/a 0 (926.36) n/a 0 (2.25)
Sunower oil:diesel ratio: 19:1, DI temperature: 17.5% 23.7% n/a 7.9% n/a 20.4%
(50:50) engine, Rated 27  C
Sunower oil IT: 30 bTDC 35.7% 49.0% n/a 15.4% n/a 29.3%
Diesel Fuel 0 (722.00) 0 (850.18) n/a 0 (1270.91) n/a 0 (2.14)
Sunower oil:diesel temperature: 31.7% 13.2% n/a 13.1% n/a 13.1%
(50:50) 65  C
Sunower oil 32.8% 53.2% n/a 20.4% n/a 16.4%
Soybean oil Fuel 21% 47% n/a () n/a n/a [46]
Palm oil temperature: 9.2% n/a n/a 29.3% n/a n/a
60  C
Palm oil and diesel Oil heated to n/a n/a 9.2% 29.2% n/a n/a [38]
80  C
Sunower oil No modication () () n/a () n/a n/a [47]
Rapeseed oil AC engine No modication () () n/a () () n/a [31]
Coconut oil; coconut AC, 1-cylinder, Speed: () for oil and () for oil and n/a 12% n/a 36% [22]
oil:diesel DI, 6.25 kWat 2800 rpm. blend (all load blend (all load (coconut (coconut
(20:80, 3600 rpm. IT: Variable load: condition) condition) oil) oil)
40:60,60:40,80:20) 17 bTDC 0.27, 0.39,
0.50 MPa.
Rapeseed oil:diesel Lister Petter AC, Constant speed Increases with Decreases with Increases with n/a Increases with n/a [34]
(0:100,25:75, II 1-cylinder, at 3000 rpm the increase of the increase of the increase of the increase of
50:50, 75:25, 4.45 kW at oil in blend oil in blend oil in blend oil in blend
100:0) 3000 rpm.
Pistachia Palestine Lister Petter, 1- Full load and n/a n/a n/a n/a 10% (max) n/a [40]
oil:diesel cylinder, 6 kW variable speed Decreases with
(0:100,5:95, at 1500,1700, the increase of
10:90,15:85, 1900, oil in blend
20:80) 2100,2300 rpm
Rapeseed oil 4cylinders, Oil heated to n/a n/a 7.6% 2% n/a n/a [48]
Sunower oil common rail 8090  C. Load n/a n/a 1.3% 6.7% n/a n/a
Soybean oil TDI passanger 50 kW, RPM n/a n/a 2.5% 5.4% n/a n/a
Peanut oil car CI engine 3300 n/a n/a 0% 7% n/a n/a
Plant oilb Lister Petter, 1500 rpm and 38.1% (full 20% (full load) 9.3% (full 40.3% 0.9% (full n/a [41]
Power: 9.5 kW, at different load) load) (full load) load)
1500 rpm loads

n/a: Not available.

By volume.
Type unknown.
SD: Smoke density.

to 18% compared to engines running on fossil diesel under of 215% (Tables 3a and 3b and Fig. 2). The likely reasons for this
similar operating conditions. However, according to most reports are similar to those in Section 2.2.1 above. However, a comparison
there is a power decrease of around 218% (Fig. 2). Possible based on brake specic energy consumption (BSEC) rather than
explanations for this include (i) higher viscosity interferes with BSFC is arguably more logical, given that the caloric value of
the injection process and leads to poor atomisation, leading in plant oil is lower than fossil diesel fuel (Table 2). The inverse of
turn to inefcient mixing of air and fuel which contributes to BSEC gives the brake thermal efciency.
incomplete combustion; (ii) it also causes some plant oil to be
left unburnt and penetrate the engine crankcase which can cause 2.2.3. Brake thermal efciency
a loss of power; and (iii) the low caloric value of plant oil. In one This is dened as the ratio between the brake power output and
study using rapeseed oil, pressure analysis inside the engine the energy of oil/fuel combustion. The literature shows that brake
cylinder shows a reduced maximum peak of cylinder pressure thermal efciency of pure plant oils (or blends) is in the range 3%
compared to fossil diesel; and the heat release diagram reveals to 10% compared to fossil diesel (Tables 3a and 3b; Fig. 2). High
that the oil vaporises and burns at a slower rate than fossil diesel viscosity and low volatility are again the reason for efciency loss.
[34]. Whereas, in the case of orange oil fuelled operation, both Efciency gains might be explained by the lower caloric value of
peak cylinder pressure and heat release rate are higher than that plant oil.
of fossil diesel operation [45].
2.3. Exhaust emissions
2.2.2. Brake specic fuel consumption (BSFC)
The BSFC is the mass rate of fuel consumption per unit brake A comparison of data for engine emissions shows a considerable
power. The BSFC for plant oil and blends is the same or higher spread (Tables 4a and 4b). This is due to the variation of plant oil
than for fossil diesel; most literature reports an average increase type, engine choice (indirect/direct injection and brand), fuel inlet
6 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

Table 4b
Review of comparative engine exhaust emission analysis: non-edible plant oil and fossil diesel.

Plant oila Engine Modication/ Comparison with fossil diesel fuel performance (% change) Ref.
(or blend) specication adjustments and
Exhaust gas emissions (ppm) Exhaust gas SDb (Bosch No.)
condition CO HC CO2 NOx
Rubber seed oil 1-cylinder, AC, Constant speed, 49% (full load) 12.8% (full n/a 34% 10.8% (full 44% (full load) [27]
Power: 4.4 kW variable load load) (full load)
at 1500 rpm load)
Jojoba oil:diesel DEUTZ, 1- Constant speed, n/a n/a n/a () n/a n/a [26]
(0:90, 20:80, cylinder, AC, variable load
40:60, 60:40) 5.775 kW at
1500 rpm
Jatropha oil; 6 HP, AC, Rated Optimum n/a 33.33% n/a 34% n/a 25.9% [13]
diesel IT: 30.5 bTDC parameters: 32
and IP: 205 bar, bTDC, 220 bar
Injector plunger and 9 mm.
dia 8 mm Constant speed
and full load
Diesel; Jatropha Lister Petter, 1- Unheated and Almost similar n/a 0 [Lowest for n/a () [25% for () [Decreases [42]
and diesel: cylinder, AC, DI pre-heated 97.4:2.6 ratio] 100% Jatropha for heated oil
Jatropha Jatropha oil. oil. Decreases for than unheated
(97.4:2.6, Constant speed, all blends] oil]
80:20, 50:50) variable load
Pre-heated and Kirloskar, 1- Oil was pre- () (unheated () n/a n/a () [Increases n/a [43]
unheated cylinder, 7.4 kW heated to 80 oil).Decreases for pre-heated
Jatropha oil; at 1500 rpm, DI, 90  C. Constant for heated oil oil than
diesel WC, 4-stroke speed, variable unheated]
Jatropha Kirloskar, 1- Constant speed, Increases as oil Increases as () [ 33% for n/a Increases as oil Increases as oil [43]
oil:diesel cylinder, 7.4 kW variable load increases in oil increases pure Jatropha oil increases in increases in
(10:90, 20:80, at 1500 rpm, DI, blend. Similar at in blend at maximum blend blend
50:50, 75:25, WC, 4-stroke low load load]
100:0) condition
Jatropha oil; Kirloskar, IP and cold n/a n/a n/a n/a Increases with n/a [11]
diesel; and 3.68 kW at jacket water was the increase of
Jatropha 1500 rpm, 1- maintained at Jatropha oil in
oil:diesel (as cylinder 210 bar and blend in entire
blend) 55  C. Constant load range
speed, variable
Orange oil 1-cylinder, AC, Constant speed, 32.5% 60% n/a 12% n/a 5.9% (full load) [45]
4.4 kW at variable load (full load) (full load) (full
1500 rpm load)

n/a: Not available.

By volume.
SD: smoke density.

temperature, high or low load operation, speed variation, instru- particles may also clog exhaust valves. The thermal efciency of the
mentation accuracy, lack of feedstock homogeneity and ambient engine and emissions of NOx and soot (or PM) are interrelated. If the
conditions. temperature of the combustion is high, the thermal efciency will be
Emissions of CO2 are either almost similar or increase when the higher as will be emissions of NOx, whereas soot emission will be
engine runs on pure plant oil (or blends) in comparison to when it
runs on fossil diesel (Tables 4a and 4b). Emissions of hydrocarbons
(HCs) indicate incomplete combustion. When the engine runs on
change from fossil diesel

CO NOx Smoke
plant oil, emissions of CO and HC may either increase or decrease 40
(Tables 4a and 4b; Fig. 3). At low load operation using plant oil, CO
emission is almost the same as for fossil diesel. Whereas at higher 20
loads, the mixture becomes richer thus more CO is produced due to 0
the lower oxygen content of plant oil.
Emissions of NOx tend to increase with the nitrogen content of -20
the oil. Note that NOx is responsible for acid rain and contributes to -40
global warming. It can also cause respiratory problems. Most
literature reports a decrease in NOx emission with plant oil (or -60
Soybean pure
Soybean pure
Sunflower pure
Sunflower pure
Sunflower pure
Sunflower blend
Sunflower blend
Sunflower blend
Palm pure
Palm blend
Coconut pure
Rapeseed pure
Oil (1) pure
Peanut pure
Jatropha pure
Orange pure
Rubber seed pure

blends) compared to fossil diesel (Fig. 3).

The literature shows that exhaust gas temperature and smoke
intensity from plant oil may either increase or decrease in compar-
ison to fossil diesel (Tables 4a and 4b). Particulate matter (PM) or
soot refers to the carbonaceous particles formed in the gas phase.
Soot particles absorb and carry carcinogenic materials into the Fig. 3. CO, NOx and smoke emission of CI engines running on plant oil (or blends with
environment to the detriment of human health. Excessive soot fossil diesel) as compared to fossil diesel (Oil (1): unknown [41]).
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113 7

Table 5
Review of durability of engines running on plant oils and blends.

Plant oil (or blend) Engine specication/operating Hours Durability of engine Ref.
Pongamia oil 1 MW diesel gen set 800 No major engine problems occurred [50]
70% rapeseed oil:30% diesel 1-cylinder engine 850 No signicant engine problems occurred [51]
Rapeseed oil, palm oil DI engine CD build-ups and sticking of piston rings were observed in long-term operation [52]
CD and sticking of piston rings were eliminated either by heating the oil or by
Sunower oil AC, II, constant load 2300 No durability problems were reported [8]
75% soybean oil:25% diesel; and AC and DI Observed increased lubricating oil viscosity and temperature, and high engine [53]
100% diesel coolant water temperature during blend operation. Build up of CD occurred in
cylinders and injector systems
Cottonseed oil and diesel blends Tested in two engines: Lister engine 200 Output from Lister engine injector nozzles had decreased as the share of [54,55]
(10:90 and 25:75); and 100% (DI) and Deutz engine (II) cottonseed oil increased in blend; no such changes were observed in Deutz engine.
diesel Wear on engine parts was found to be greater than fossil diesel operation. CD on
the engine parts were found minimum with 10% blend of cottonseed oil in both
Peanut oil and diesel blends Tested in two engines: Deutz engine 200 In Deutz engine, nozzles output were 41% higher than fossil diesel operation. For [54,55]
(10:90 and 25:75); and 100% (II) and Lister engine (DI) 10% peanut oil blend, engine wear in Lister was higher than in Deutz. CD was
diesel highest for 10% oil blend in Lister and for 25% blend in Deutz engine.
Pre-heated palm oil DI engine, variable load, constant Heating oil at 60  C and above was enough to dissolve all solid phase of oil. [38]

speed. Oil temperature varied (up to Frictional load was measured - heating palm oil up to 100 C had no adverse effect
100  C) on injection system
Sunower oil mixed with engine 5% sunower oil and 95% lube oil. Thickening and alkalinity losses of lube oil occurred which might lead to the [56]
lube oil (engine wear testing) Simulated in an engine crankcase corrosion problem. Lubricity value reduced but exhibited lower metal indexes than
lube oil.
Coconut oil; palm oil; diesel. 4-cylinder, Isuzu 4FB1 CD in injector nozzles was comparable to fossil diesel operation for pure oil [39]
Blend of coconut oil, palm oil operation. Alcohol content in the blend decreases as the amount of oil increases,
and diesel resulting in more CD
95% used cooking oil:5% diesel Pre-heated and used in diesel engine 4000 No CD occurred except contamination of lube oil. Lube oil to be changed every [57]
eet 4500 40004500 miles.
70% rapeseed oil (winter):30% 1-cylinder 850 No adverse wear occurred. No effect on lube oil or power output observed [33]
Degummed soybean oil:diesel John Deere, 6-cylinder, 6.6 litre, DI, 600 Tested to check crankcase lubricant viscosity. Lubricating oil thickening occurred [58]
(1:2 and 1:1) Turbocharged for 1:1 blend; whereas it did not occur for 1:2 blend
Blend of 25% soybean oil and Ford diesel, 2.59 litre, 3-cylinders, 200 Developed excessive CD on all combustion chamber parts [59]
sunower oil; and 75% no 2 2600 series
Pongamia oil:diesel USHA engine, 2.6 kW, 1-cylinder, AC Oil was pre-heated to 60  C before blending. Valves clogged within 70 h of [24]
(0:100,50:50,75:25, 100:0) operation.

lower. This three-way trade off, as noted by Rabe [49], is affected by of load-carrying capacity and this aggravates wear. This can result
both the temperature of combustion and the engine load. from dilution with plant oil leaked into the crankcase, which can
occur during cold starting especially due to the richness of the air-
2.4. Engine durability to-fuel mixture [60]. In contrast, formation of resinous products
due to oil oxidation, evaporation of lighter fractions, anti-wear
The review of engine performance and exhaust emissions dis- additives, and insoluble contaminants tend to increase the viscosity
cussed above is mostly based on short-term tests. Long-term of lubricating oil [60]. Too high viscosity increases the frictional loss
engine testing with plant oil is expensive and only a few results are and affects the power output of the engine. Lubricating oil change is
reported in the literature (Table 5). Durability problems reported recommended if the viscosity increases by over 20%, or decreases
vary among authors, and in some cases even for the same type of by 10% or more [60].
oil; this is mainly due to the variation in oil sources, operating
hours, ambient conditions, engine brand (and type) and measure-
ment accuracy/techniques. These problems include (i) coking of the
injector system, (ii) carbon deposits inside the cylinder, (iii) piston
ring sticking and jamming of valves, (iv) engine wear, (v) clogging
of oil and fuel lters and the fuel supply line and (vi) lubricating oil
contamination or dilution due to the introduction of un-burnt plant
oil into the crankcase which can result in thickening or gelling of
the lubricant.
The high ash point and low volatility of plant oil can be a cause
of carbon deposits, ring sticking and lubricating oil dilution and
degradation. Thermal polymerization of plant oil causes a deposi-
tion on the injectors, forming a layer which disturbs the spray
Wear is one of the main parameters monitored during endur-
ance testing. The most vulnerable parts are the piston and cylinder,
piston ring, bearing, crankshaft, valves, camshaft and lubricating oil Fig. 4. Improvement in viscosity of plant oil (here Jatropha) by pre-heating, repro-
pumps. Loss of lubricating oil viscosity and pressure leads to a loss duced with permission from [43].
8 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

3. Techniques for improving performance, 30

emissions and durability Viscosity at 40 deg C
25 Viscosity at 100 deg C

Kinematic viscosity (cSt)

We have seen that the use of plant oil in CI engines introduces
a number of technical problems regarding performance and dura- 20
bility. Let us now consider the methods that have been employed to
overcome these. 15

3.1. Plant oil property modication 10

Methods to modify plant oil properties include (i) pre-heating of 5

the plant oil to reduce viscosity, (ii) blending with fossil diesel or
with gaseous fuels, (iii) addition of oxygenates and emulsication, 0
100/0 60/40 40/60 0/100
(iv) transesterication to make biodiesel, and (v) winterication
Blend of jojoba oil and fossil diesel (by volume)
(i.e. lowering the temperature) to remove high molecular-weight
fractions [41,42,60]. Fig. 5. Improvements of plant oil viscosity by pre-heating and blending with fossil
The importance of density, viscosity and surface tension in diesel.
affecting the spray pattern during the injection system (which
ultimately affects the combustion of the plant oil inside the engine)
viscous than fossil diesel. Fig. 5 illustrates examples of plant oil
can be appreciated in terms of the Sauter mean diameter (SMD) of
viscosity reduction by both pre-heating and blending [26].
droplets, given by:
Emulsication is another method which has been tried by some
researchers to improve the combustion of plant oil [42,61]. A small
SMD 3:08n0:335 srL 0:737 r0:06
A DP 0:54 (1)
amount of water is added, which helps to improve the atomisation
2 1
where n is the kinematic viscosity in m s ; s is the surface tension of the oil. It reduces the combustion temperature thus helping to
in Nm1; rL is the density of the fuel and rA that of the ambient air reduce NOx emissions. Micro-emulsions with solvents such as
in kg m3; and DP is the nozzle opening pressure in Pa [22]. The methanol, ethanol and isobutanol have been studied to reduce the
viscosity of plant oil reduces markedly with temperature. Heating viscosity of plant oil. (A micro-emulsion is dened as a colloidal
of pure Jatropha oil to between 90  C and 100  C is sufcient to equilibrium dispersion of optically isotropic uid microstructures
reduce the viscosity to close to that of fossil diesel (Fig. 4). Similarly, with dimensions generally in the range formed spontaneously from
crude palm oil requires heating to 92  C [38]. Engine performance two normally immiscible liquids and one or more ionic or non-ionic
and emission characteristics are improved following pre-heating amphiphiles [62].) Micro-emulsions can improve the spray char-
(see Tables 3a and 3b, and, 4a and 4b). The optimum pre-heating acteristics by explosive vaporisation of the low boiling constituents
temperature has to be established for each type of plant oil. [63]. A micro-emulsion of aqueous ethanol in soybean oil was
Blending the plant oil with diesel is another technique to found to be as good as that of no.2 diesel during a short-term
improve viscosity and other properties. Machacon et al. [22] performance test, in spite of lower cetane number and energy
demonstrated that the SMD value (Eq. (1)) decreases with increased content. No long-term tests were performed, however [64].
amount of fossil diesel in the coconut oil and fossil diesel blend. In Researchers have tested CI engines with methyl (or ethyl) esters
1980, Caterpillar Inc. (Brazil) used pre-combustion chamber engines of plant oils (i.e. biodiesel) and compared the performance and
with a blend of 10/90 plant oil/fossil diesel to maintain the total emissions against fossil diesel. These esters are obtained from
power without any alterations to oil or the engine; 20/80 blends a reaction of raw plant oil with an alcohol to form esters and
were also used successfully [15]. Many short-term experiments glycerol, i.e. transesterication, which reduces its viscosity and
have been successful with different blend ratios of plant oil and unsaturation. Both methanol and ethanol are used but methanol is
fossil diesel [15,22,24,28,34,40,43]. A diesel eet is reported to have often preferred because of its lower cost and chemical and physical
been powered with 95% used cooking oil and 5% diesel successfully, advantages. Biodiesel may be used alone or as a blend with fossil
without coking or carbon build-up problems [57]. Another report diesel. However, engine makers and researchers have yet to
describes the use of a 50/50 blend of Jatropha oil/fossil diesel in a CI establish conclusively the long-term impact of biodiesel fuels.
engine without any major problems, but recommends a longer-term Agarwal et al. [20] investigated the engine performance and
durability study [11]. Engines operated with pure rapeseed oil, or emission characteristics of pure (or blended) linseed oil, mahua oil,
with blends of 75/25 rapeseed oil/fossil diesel, showed higher rice bran oil and linseed oil methyl esters. They obtained perfor-
mechanical efciency than with pure diesel and other blends (50/50 mance and emission results with various fuel blends that were
and 25/75) in a trial by Nwafor and Rice [34]. mostly close to fossil diesel, though a 20% linseed oil methyl ester
The physical and chemical properties can be very sensitive to blend provided higher thermal efciency and reduced BSEC [20].
the blend ratio (Table 6 and Fig. 5). For example, the viscosity of Senatore et al. [65] compared the DI engine performance and
a 30/70 Jatropha/fossil diesel blend was found to be close to that of emission of 100% biodiesel (RME) with that of fossil diesel and
fossil diesel [11], whereas pure Jatropha is almost eight times more found that although engine performance was unaffected with

Table 6
Physical and chemical properties of jojoba oil and diesel blend [26].

Property Test method Blend of jojoba oil (J) and diesel (D)

0 J:100 D 20 J:80 D 40 J:60 D 60 J:40 D 100 J:0 D

Kinematic viscosity at 40  C (cSt) ASTM D-445 3.294 5.030 7.606 11.375 25.484
Density at 23  C (kg/m3) 832 834 841 848 863
Flash point ( C) ASTM D-93 69 75 78 83 292
Pour point ( C) ASTM D -97 6 3 3 3 6
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113 9

biodiesel operation but emission of NOx was signicantly higher. Table 7

Laforgia and Adito [66] demonstrated that the emissions from Optimum injection parameters values for Jatropha oil operation.

a biodiesel-operated engine could be reduced by advancing the Injection timing ( bTDC) Values of brake thermal efciency (%) at various
ignition timing, while performance was maintained without any injector pressure
substantial engine modication. Raw oils of sunower, cotton seed 205 bar 220 bar 240 bar 260 bar
and soybean and their methyl esters were tested in a DI single 30.5 25.7 27.7 28 27.9
cylinder CI engine by Altin et al. [12], who compared the perfor- 32.0 26.2 28.9 28.9 27.5
mances and emissions with that of fossil diesel; this study 33.5 27.3 26.8
34.5 26.7
concluded that both the raw and transesteried oils served well as
alternative fuels. There was a modest 10% loss of power output.
These authors recommend some modication to the fuel system.
Raheman and Phadataatre [67] report that the BSFC of B20 and B40 combustion [13]. Therefore specication of optimum injection
blends was 0.87.4% lower than fossil diesel, while the BSFC of B60 timing and pressure are important for any specic type of plant oil.
B100 was 1148% higher. Banapurmath et al. [68] investigated the As an example, for pure Jatropha oil, the optimum parameters for
performance and emission of a DI single cylinder CI engine running improved performance were established in one study as an injec-
on pongamia, Jatropha and sesame seed oil methyl esters, at tion timing of 32 bTDC and an injection pressure of 220 bar
different established optimum injection timings and pressures for (Table 7), compared to the rated injection timing and pressure of
each type of methyl ester. They reported lower thermal efciency 30.5 bTDC and 205 bar, respectively, for fossil diesel fuel operation
and higher emissions of CO, HC and smoke for all ester types [13]. In another study, injection pressure was optimised for pure
compared to standard diesel operation [68]. Jatropha oil fuelled operation by measuring the BSFC, thermal
Investigations on engine wear with B20 biodiesel operation efciency and smoke intensity at different pressures [43]. Once
have been performed with comparison to fossil diesel used under Jatropha oil was heated to 100  C, however, it was found that the
similar conditions and a wear reduction of 20% reported [60,69,70]. optimum injection pressure was the same as for fossil diesel [43].
A reduction in carbon deposits was also observed [69]. As with raw Injection timing and pressure were optimised by Ishii and Take-
plant oil, introduction of biodiesel in the engine crankcase can uchii to improve the atomisation of soybean oil [76]. Similarly, the
adulterate the lubricating oil causing endurance problems. Fraer optimum injection timing for plant oil and esters of plant oil was
et al. [71] investigated and compared the durability of a 300 hp found to be 29 bTDC, in place of rated injection timing of 27 bTDC
transport engine after running it with B20 fuel in a truck over for fossil diesel, in a study by Senthilkumar et al. [77].
a distance of 960,000 km. No noticeable difference in wear Use of a pre-combustion chamber (i.e. indirect injection) and
occurred, but the cylinder heads accumulated a heavy amount of investigations into the compatibility of engine parts materials have
sludge and the engine needed an injector nozzle replacement [71]. been suggested by some researchers wishing to improve perfor-
Some of the widely agreed important advantages and disad- mance and durability [78]. Carbonisation inside the engine cylinder
vantages of using plant oil derived biodiesel can be summarized as can be reduced by using indirect injection engines.
follows [2,3,12,20,23,25,29,60,7275]: (i) its viscosity is close to Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) is another approach to
that of fossil diesel, the caloric value is around 10% lower, and the improving the exhaust gas emissions of plant oil fuelled engines. A
cetane number and pour point are higher than fossil diesel (the small amount of exhaust gas is fed back into the cylinder, lowering
high pour point may be problematic for low temperature operation peak temperatures and reducing the formation of NOx [7981]. An
at above 30% biodiesel blend), (ii) brake power decreases, (iii) BSFC advanced exhaust gas analyser integrated with an EGR arrange-
increases by around 215%, (iv) BSEC hardly changes, (v) biodiesel ment may be used as a tool for improving the performance and
provides an excellent lubricant for the injection system, (vi) the emission characteristics. An internal EGR device is becoming
oxygen content is about 11% higher (this leads to a lowering in soot, available for modern engines, whereby an electro-hydraulic control
HC and CO emissions, but an increase in NOx emissions due to system regulates valve actuation [82].
higher combustion temperatures and hence efciencies) (vii) it is Presence of unsaturated hydrocarbon chain in plant oil is
non-toxic and bio-degradable, (viii) it acts as a solvent and can problematic [83]. It means that the chemical structure of plant oil
loosen deposits in fuel tanks, (ix) use of biodiesel may cause clog- can change with time. To reduce this tendency, suggested plant oil
ging in the fuel lter, fuel supply line and injection systems storage temperature and storage time limits are <10  C and <6
(frequent change of fuel lters is one solution for this), and (x) it is months, respectively, and lubricating oil changes and maintenance
expensive due to the chemical processing needed. checks at least every 250 h are recommended [84].

3.2. Engine modications and adjustments 4. Life-cycle analysis

For plant oil use, the literature reports a number of modica- Life-cycle analysis is used here to obtain two indicators: energy
tions and adjustments, in particular (i) changes to the injection output-to-input ratio and GHG emissions. Raw plant oil is
timing and pressure; (ii) addition or adaptation of a separate compared against fossil diesel and biodiesel. The life cycle is
combustion chamber; and (iii) exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). conveniently broken down into ve phases: feedstock production,
Advanced injection timing leads to better combustion and feedstock transportation, fuel production, fuel transportation/
reduction in HC and CO emissions due to the extra time allowed for distribution and end use.
the plant oil to mix with the air. Too early injection, however,
results in incomplete combustion due to the lower peak tempera- 4.1. Life-cycle energy analysis
ture and peak pressure in the cylinder. An increase in injection
pressure enhances the atomisation of fuel at the nozzle outlet and The total primary energy required for production of 1 MJ of
leads to better engine performance. On the other hand, a very high fossil diesel energy is 1.20 MJ, which corresponds to a life-cycle
injection pressure will lead to ne droplets and adversely affect the output-to-input energy ratio of 0.83 [85]. Of the total primary
engine performance. It is reported that swirl imparted to the inlet energy requirement, around 93% is used for crude oil extraction. For
air, together with increased injection pressure, promotes better plant oil, the energy ratio depends on species, local climate
10 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

conditions, type and efciency of agricultural machineries, mode of 7

transport and conversion processing technologies. Both fossil and Fossil diesel
renewable energy (i.e. primary energy) are required for raw plant

Life-cycle energy ratio

Soybean biodiesel
oil and biodiesel production. Fig. 6 shows the primary energy Raw soybean oil
requirement for raw soybean oil and soybean biodiesel production,
using energy data based on US national average geographical
conditions. Primary energy requirement for 1 MJ of biodiesel 3
production is 1.24 MJ (Fig. 6); this corresponds to a life-cycle energy
ratio of 0.80. Biodiesel and fossil diesel have very similar energy
ratio. This reects the higher process energy requirement for con- 1
verting plant oil into biodiesel. Using the gures presented in Fig. 6,
it can be calculated that the primary energy requirement for 1 MJ of 0
Based on primary energy Based on fossil energy
soybean oil production is 0.161 MJ. Assuming the same energy
content value of soybean biodiesel and soybean oil, this represents Fig. 7. Life-cycle output-to-input energy ratio of fossil diesel, soybean biodiesel and
an energy ratio of 6.2. In the case of biodiesel production, nearly raw soybean oil.

87% of total primary energy requirement is used for converting

soybean oil to biodiesel (Fig. 6). Considering only the fossil energy Greenhouse gas emissions are calculated here on the basis of GWP
input (of primary energy), biodiesels fossil energy ratio is favour- over 100 years resulting from emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O
able. Biodiesel uses 0.31 MJ of fossil energy to produce 1 MJ of fuel expressed in terms of their CO2 equivalent (Table 8) [90].
product; this equates to a fossil energy ratio of 3.2 [85]. In the case One of the major advantages of raw plant oil over biodiesel is the
of soybean oil, approximately 0.1602 MJ of fossil energy is required absence of chemical processing and its associated emissions. Life-
to produce 1 MJ of fuel energy [85], which gives a life-cycle fossil cycle GHG emission of a fuel can be divided into upstream and
energy ratio of 6.2. This shows that soybean oil yields nearly 6 times downstream (or tailpipe) components. Whereas the upstream
more energy than the primary energy input. Note that a similar component from biodiesel is higher than the upstream emission
gure for 6.6 for the energy ratio of winter rapeseed oil has been from fossil diesel and raw plant oil, the downstream emissions for
reported [86]. all plant oil derived fuels is low as the CO2 produced during the
It is important to point out that these results depend on the combustion process is offset by the plantation of new oil bearing
assumptions made, the system boundaries and the allocation rules plants. Total GHG emissions have been reported as 0.041 and 0.095
for biodiesel and its by-products [3]. Based on total primary energy (kg of CO2 equivalent per MJ) for bio and fossil diesel production,
requirements, literature reports that the energy ratio for Jatropha respectively [91]. Reductions of CO2, CO, PM, and HC emission from
biodiesel varies from 0.71 to 1.47, depending on the soil fertility and biodiesel have been reported relative to fossil diesel
level of irrigation [87]. For comparison, the energy ratios for fossil [16,25,67,72,92,93], but NOx is higher for biodiesel [16,21,72,73,94].
diesel, rapeseed oil and rapeseed biodiesel are reported elsewhere For example, NOx increased by 4.5% for soybean methyl ester and
as 0.88, 3.23.5 and 1.9, respectively [88]. Fig. 7 summaries the life- fossil diesel blend operation [94]; and by 10% for 100% biodiesel
cycle energy advantages of using plant oil (here soybean) over bio operation [21,95]. The bulk modulus of biodiesel is higher than
and fossil diesel in CI engines. fossil diesel [96]. Higher bulk modulus causes more rapid needle lift
in the fuel injector, effectively advancing fuel injection timing; an
4.2. Life-cycle GHG emission analysis advance in injection timing leads to high NOx emissions [21,73,96].
Table 9 shows upstream and downstream life-cycle atmospheric
The term Global Warming Potential (GWP) is used to compare emissions of fossil diesel, soybean biodiesel and raw soybean oil.
global warming impacts of emissions of different greenhouse gases For fossil diesel, tailpipe CO2 represents 86.5% of the total CO2
(GHGs). It is dened as the ratio of radiative forcing (both direct and emitted over the entire life cycle. Most remaining CO2 comes from
indirect), from 1 kg of greenhouse over a specied period of time. emissions at the oil renery, which contribute a further 9.6% [85].
For soybean biodiesel, 84.4% of the CO2 emissions occur at the
tailpipe, compared to an estimated 89.1% for raw soybean oil. For
Plant oil (soybean) agriculture: 0.0660 MJ the raw plant oil, the tailpipe emission is entirely offset over the life
cycle. The calculations in Table 9 conrm that raw plant oil adds
effectively less total GHG to the atmosphere than bio or fossil diesel.
Transportation of soybean seed: 0.0034 MJ Raw soybean oil and soybean biodiesel reduce life-cycle GHG
emissions by 89% and 78%, respectively, compared to fossil diesel
(Fig. 8).
Crushing oil soybean seed: 0.0803 MJ
5. Conclusions and outlook

Transportation of soybean oil: 0.0072 MJ This review of some 17 raw plant oils has found that the
signicant physical and chemical properties for CI engine use are

Table 8
Conversion of soybean oil to biodiesel: 1.0801 MJ Global warming potential (GWP) and atmospheric lifetime [89].

GHG Atmospheric lifetime (years) GWPa

CO2 50200 1
Transportation of biodiesel: 0.0044 MJ CH4 12  3 21
N2O 120 310
Fig. 6. Life-cycle energy analysis: primary energy requirements for 1 MJ soybean a
100 year time horizon.
biodiesel production [85].
A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113 11

Table 9
Life-cycle GHG emission analysis of fossil diesel, raw soybean oil and soybean biodiesel.

GHG/ Life-cycle air emission (g/kW h)

Fossil diesel Plant oil (soybean) and/or biodiesel Total Total
biodiesel plant oil
Production, Diesel Total Soybean Soybean Soybean Soybean Soybean Biodiesel Biodiesel Plant oil
renery, tailpipe agriculture transport crushing transport conversion transport (100%) (100%)
transport tailpipe tailpipe
CH4 0.2718 0.0000 0.2718 0.0379 0.0008 0.0868 0.0019 0.1363 0.0011 0.0000 0.0000 0.2648 0.1285
NOx 0.2795 6.4320 6.7115 0.2696 0.0224 0.0874 0.0843 0.1112 0.0289 7.0038 6.4320 7.6076 6.9246
N2O 0.0091 0.0000 0.0091 0.0017 0.0003 0.0004 0.0000 0.0003 0.0003 0.0000 0.0000 0.0031 0.0028
CO 0.0935 1.6080 1.7015 0.1834 0.0080 0.0141 0.0170 0.0169 0.0105 0.8646 1.2703 1.1145 1.5033
CO2 (fossil) 114.2 734.3 848.6 47.27 47.27 47.27 41.03 0.0000 182.8 94.54
CO2 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 728.1 769.1 728.1 769.1

Note: (i) Diesel bus (CI engine) has been used as end use and most data are based on US national average geographical conditions [85].
(ii) Upstream CO2 emission of biodiesel life cycle is almost equally same for plant oil (here soybean) agriculture, crushing and conversion steps [85].
(iii) NOx and CO emissions of plant oil have been assumed as same and 21% less than corresponding diesel value (using the gures from Table 4a).
(iv) Tailpipe CO2 emission (fossil) is zero in case of pure plant oil combustion.
(v) Total downstream (or tailpipe) CO2 emission has been assumed same both for biodiesel and plant oil.

mostly within 12% of the corresponding values for standard fossil This review has highlighted that, like raw plant oils, pure bio-
diesel. The main exception is viscosity. Plant oils are 614 times diesel also encounters some technical difculties. Though biodiesel
more viscous and this tends to affect spray characteristics and lead is an attractive option, since it can be used without any modica-
to improper combustion. Relatively high ash point temperatures tion to the engine, long-term durability has yet to be proven
make plant oils safe to handle and transport but in some cases their conclusively other than with dilute blends.
high pour point may create problems for low temperature Raw plant oil gives considerable life-cycle energy and emission
operation. benets over biodiesel and fossil diesel. Output-to-input energy
Regarding the performance and emissions of engines running ratios of soybean oil, soybean biodiesel and fossil diesel are 6.2, 0.80
on raw plant oils, a review of 30 sources has shown that, compared and 0.83, respectively, based on primary energy input; and 6.2, 3.2
to fossil diesel: (i) brake power output is between 18% lower and and 0.83, respectively, based on fossil energy input. This is due to
10% higher (ii) BSFC is increased by 215%; BSEC, which may be the much lower energy requirements in production and processing.
a better measure than BSFC, is almost unchanged; (iii) brake Furthermore, raw plant oil gives rise to less total GHG emission. For
thermal efciency is between 10% lower and 3% higher; and (iv) example, raw soybean oil gives a GHG reduction over fossil diesel of
emissions of CO2 are unchanged or increased with plant oil; those 89% while soybean biodiesel gives a 78% reduction.
of NOx are decreased. There is, however, a considerable spread in Overall, raw plant oils are technically feasible as an alternative
the performance data. fuel in CI engines with minor modications to the engine and
Durability problems such as carbon deposition, lubrication oil maintenance schedule [7,12,20,28,41,43]. For environmental and
dilution or thickening, piston ring sticking and injector nozzle economic reasons, their popularity may soon grow. Increased
coking have been reported in engines running on plant oil. High production and demand may help to reduce the price and this
ash point and viscosity may contribute to these. Pre-heating, could accelerate their uptake [12]. However, more research and
blending, emulsication and transesterication of the plant oils development into resources and engine design is needed. As it
have been tried as means of obtaining better performance, emis- stands few manufactures are currently willing to offer guarantees
sion and durability. Reported modications and adjustments to for engines running on such fuel.
engines include: changes in injection timing and injection pressure,
use of a separate combustion chamber and exhaust gas recircula-
Table 10
tion. Without any change to oil or engine, only short-term use is Productivity gures of oil by some oil bearing plants [18,21,50].
likely to be successful. Amended maintenance schedules are also
Name of plant oil Productivity
needed to monitor the carbon deposits and lube oil property and to
(kg of oil/ha)
prevent lter clogging. Common name Latin name
Palm Erythea salvadorensis 189
Corn Zea mays 145
900 Rubber seed Hevea brasiliensis 217
800 Cotton Gossypium hirsutum 273
Life-cycle GHG emission

Deccan hemp Cannabis sativa 305

700 Soybean Glycine max 375
600 Linseed Linum usitatissimum 402
Mustard Brassica alba 481
Sesame Sesamum indicum 585
400 Safower Carthamus tinctorius 655
Sunower Helianthus annuus 800
Peanut Arachis hypogaea 890
200 Opium poppy Papaver somniferum 978
100 Rapeseed Brassica napus 1000
Olive Olea europaea 1019
0 Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis 1528
Fossil diesel Soybean biodiesel Raw soybean oil Babassum palm Orbignya martiana 1541
Jatropha Jatropha curcas 1590
Fig. 8. The use of biodiesel gives rise to greater emissions than that of plant oil. The
Coconut Cocos nucifera 2260
graph compares total life-cycle GHG emission (g CO2 equivalent/kW h) of fossil diesel,
Pongamia Pongamia pinnata 2500
soybean biodiesel (100%) and raw soybean oil.
12 A.K. Hossain, P.A. Davies / Renewable Energy 35 (2010) 113

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