:: PIM --- ID :: 10283

"Biofuels" are transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel that are made from biomass materials. These fuels are usually blended with the petroleum fuels — gasoline and diesel fuel, but they can also be used on their own. 

Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, had demonstrated it at 1900 World Fair using groundnut oil. More than a century later, bio- fuels seem set for a comeback. While the use of bio-fuels is prevalent in Europe, it could soon pick up here as well. Organisations such as Indian Oil, Indian Railways and the Mahindra Group are conducting research in the field. If successful, bio-diesel could result in substantial reduction in petroleum imports.

Bio-diesel refers to those plant oils that can substitute diesel. Vegetable oils can be directly used as fuel, but they perform better after chemical treatment. The resulting fuel can then be blended with regular diesel in various concentrations. For instance , bio- diesel is sold in France in a 5% mixture with regular diesel while it is sold in Germany in pure form. According to DK Tuli, CEO of Indian oil technologies, as IOC subsidiary, apart from being renewable, mixing bio – diesel also results in fuel quality improvements such as a higher cetane number and reduced sulphur emission. Indian Oil is running a pilot plant for bio- diesel production. According to Mr Tuli, a 5% bio-diesel mix can be used with regular diesel without requiring any changes in the engine design. Engines have also been tested at concentrations of 10% and 20% . Bio-diesel can be obtained from virtually any plant oil.

Soybean oil is the preferred feedstock in the US, rapeseed and sunflower oil are used in Europe while Malaysia and Thailand use palm oil. Germany, France and Italy are large producers of bio-diesel. The total installed production capacity in EU is more than 2 million tonnes a year and the production exceeded one million tones in ’02. Use of edible oil to produce bio-diesel would be financially unviable in India. Hopes however rest on a wild plant, Jatropa, whose seeds are rich in oil. According to RP Sharma , professor at IIT- Chennai and former member of the Planning Commission Committee on bio – fuel , Jatropa is a hardy plant that can grow in near absence of water. Jatropa Plants have a productive life of up to 40 Years, but take two to three years to mature. The yield of coil could be as high as 3,000 kg/hectare. The cost of bio-diesel depends on two factors, the cost of processing the raw oil. According to Mr Sharma , the cost of processing should not exceed Rs 3-4 per kilogramme.

The economic feasibility therefore depends upon the availability of oil at a reasonable price. But since Jatropa has no commercial use, there is no cultivation as of now, and availability of seeds for oil production is a problem. However, a number of plantations are believed to be coming up in Rajasthan and Haryana. Indian Railways has signed an MoU with IOC for a 500 hectare Jatropa plantation . India’s first large-scale plant for manufacture of bio-diesel is at Gurgaon, outside Delhi, operated by  Harbinsons Biotech. The company is trying to sell the design in India and had set up the plant as a demonstrator.




No Parameters Test Method EN-14214 Standards Units  Random Sample Test Results
1 Ester Content EN 14103 96.5 Min % (m/m) 96.91
2 Density @30 C EN ISO 3675 860-900 kg/m3 865
3 Kinematic Viscosity @40 c EN ISO 3104 3.5-5.0 mm2/s 4.54
4 Flash Point EN ISO 3679 120 min 0C 160
5 Sulphur Content EN ISO 20846 10 Max mg/kg 1
6 carbon Residue ( 10% Distillation residue) EN ISO 10370 0.30 max %(m/m) 0.14
7 Cetane Number EN 590 51 min calculated 78.1
8 Sulphate ash ISO 3987 0.02 max %(m/m) <0.001
9 Water content EN ISO 12937 500 max mg/kg 354
10 Total Contamination EN 12662 24 max mg/kg 21.76
11 Copper Strip corrosion(3h@50 C EN ISO 2160 1 Rating 1a
12 Oxidation Stability. 110 C EN 14112 6.0 Min Hours 19.32
13 Acid Value EN 14104 0.5 Max mg KOH/g 0.36
14 Iodine Value EN 14111 120 Max gr iodine/100g 35.98
15 Linolenic acid metyl ester EN 14103 12.0 Max %(m/m) 0.02
16 Content of FAME with>4 double bonds EN 14103 1.0 Max %(m/m) 0
17 Methanol Content En 14110 0.2 Max %(m/m) 0.04
18 Monoglyceride content En 14105 0.8 Max %(m/m) 0.26
19 Diglyceride Content EN 14105 0.2 Max %(m/m) 0.15
20 Triglyceride content EN 14105 0.2 Max %(m/m) 0.1
21 Free glycerol EN 14105 0.02 Max %(m/m) 0.010
22 Total Glycerol EN 14105 0.25 Max %(m/m) 0.11
23 Group I (alkali) metals (Na + K) EN 14108,14109 5.0 Max mg/kg 0.5
24 Group II (alkali) Metals(Ca+Mg) EN 14538 5.0 Max mg/kg <1
25 Phosphorus content EN 14107 10 Max mg/kg <1
26 Cold Filter Plug Point EN 116 Report 0 c +15