Canola Biodiesel Information

The oringal article may be found here

Biofuels? Biodiesel? Ethanol?

We hear these words more often as people around the world move toward using biofuels, which can be replenished from locally grown crops, to partially replace petroleum, a non-renewable resource. There’s no doubt that this new industry is good for the economy as new plants are built, jobs are created and farmers’ incomes rise. It is expected that in Canada, substituting just 5% of the diesel we use today with domestically produced biodiesel will generate more than $600 million in capital expenditures and contribute more than $1.1 billion per year in additional farm income.

First some background on canola. Canola is an oilseed crop which is grown annually by Canadian farmers on approximately 14 million acres across the prairies and Ontario. When the seed is processed it produces 43% oil and 57% meal, a high protein animal feed. The oil is further processed into products such as margarine and cooking oil. It can also be made into biodiesel.

Biodiesel should not be confused with ethanol. Although both are biofuels, biodiesel is produced from oils, such as canola, soy and palm, and can be used in diesel engines. Ethanol is produced from cereals such as corn and wheat, and is used in gasoline engines.

Canola Biodiesel Q&A

  1. How is canola biodiesel made?
    Biodiesel is produced using canola oil, which comes from canola seed, through a refinery process called transesterification. This process is a reaction of the oil with an alcohol to remove the glycerin, which is a byproduct of biodiesel production. Pure, 100% biodiesel – called B100 – can be blended in any proportion with petroleum diesel. The most common blends are 2% (B2), 5% (B5) and 20% (B20).
  2. What about the quality of canola biodiesel?
    Canola has low saturated fat content which gives it superior cold flow properties perfect for Canadian winters.
  3. How do energy and emissions of canola biodiesel compare to petroleum diesel?
    Engines that currently run on petroleum diesel – heavy equipment, long haul trucks, farm machinery, municipal fleets, generators – require no modification to run on biodiesel. However, they would produce considerably fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel.

    The Canadian government has committed to addressing climate change by reducing GHG emissions. It has announced that it will require a minimum of 2% renewable diesel (biodiesel) use by 2012. That equals 600 million litres of biodiesel use that will reduce GHG emissions by 3 kilograms per litre, or 1.8 million tonnes. That’s the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road. A 5% inclusion rate would be the equivalent of removing 750,000 cars.

    Canola biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 85%. And growing canola sequesters carbon in the soil and reduced tillage practices that are commonly used in canola production also mean less carbon is released.

  4. How much energy does it take to produce canola biodiesel?
    One litre of petroleum diesel is needed to produce 4 litres of diesel or 2.5 litres of canola biodiesel. That includes all phases of crop production, biodiesel manufacturing and transportation.

    However, canola, unlike petroleum, is a renewable rather than non-renewable resource. It is grown in abundance in a sustainable manner across the prairies, with additional acres in Ontario. As more farmers begin to use biodiesel, the energy balance for canola biodiesel only improves.

  5. Is there enough canola to produce biodiesel?
    The federal government has announced that 2% of petroleum diesel must be replaced with renewable diesel (biodiesel) by 2012. If all of the biodiesel was produced using canola, this would require about 1.3 million tonnes of canola seed. Canadian farmers can easily supply the canola required to fill this mandate. The “carryover” (unsold volume) of canola seed was 1.59 million tonnes (MT) in 2004/05, 2.02 MT in 2005/06, and 1.58 MT in 2006/07.
    In 2007, Canadian farmers produced just under 9 million tonnes of canola seed, meaning that biodiesel would use 14% of the crop. The canola industry has set a production target of 15 million tonnes by the year 2015.
  6. Is canola biodiesel good for Canadian farmers and the economy?
    Canada currently exports 85% of the canola it produces either as seed, or oil and meal. Japan is our largest seed customer and the US our largest oil customer. The federal renewable fuel standard will provide fundamental, long-term support for Canadian farmers by creating inelastic demand. Canola is vulnerable to borders shutting because of tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers. Made-in-Canada canola biodiesel will stabilize demand and help increase the value-added industry that is already expanding in Canada in anticipation of increased use of canola in North America.

    Economic analysis shows that every $1 invested in biodiesel infrastructure returns $2 of economic activity in construction and supporting industries. Also, the meal produced from canola crushing is a high protein livestock feed that can replace more expensive imported protein meal in dairy and hog rations.

  7. Will using Canadian canola to produce biodiesel cause world canola food oil shortages?
    Because we already produce enough canola to meet the biodiesel needs of Canada at a 2% requirement, we will not cause canola oil shortages for food. In addition, canola is increasingly being grown in more areas, like eastern Europe and South America.

    It is important that we support Canadian farmers so they can continue to grow food for Canada and for the world. Canola biodiesel will help maintain and improve farm income. We support a vibrant farm and rural economy for the sake of all Canadians and our export markets.

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