Optimization of Biodiesel Ultrasound-Assisted Synthesis from Castor Oil using Response Surface Methodology (RSM)

Scientists from Iran performed an experiment to optimize the ultrasocastor oil biodieselund assisted biodiesel synthesis from castor oil using response surface methodology. Parameters such as reaction time, methanol to oil molar ratio, ultrasonic cycle and ultrasonic amplitude were taken into consideration to optimize the biodiesel synthesis process.

Through RSM analysis, it was found that the reaction time has the most significant effect on the reaction yield.


Synthesis of Biodiesel from Castor Oil: Silent versus Sonicated Methylation and Energy Studies

Researchers from Spain conducted an experiment to compare conventional ancastor oil biodieseld ultrasound-assisted transesterification for the production of biodiesel from castoroil. The results showed that sonicated transesterification leads to higher castoroil methyl ester yield.

The energy required along each type of transesterification was measured which showed that sonicated transesterification consumes lower amount of energy than conventional one.


Applications of Castor oil in Specialty Chemicals and Biofuels Market

Castor Oil for Specialty Chemicals

Specialty chemicals market is a $700 billion + market worldwide, with high profit margins.

Given castor oil unique versatility, there could be a number of niche applications within specialty chemicals, other than the ones already exploited.

More “entrepreneurial” research needs to be undertaken in this direction.

Castor Oil for Biofuels

While there has been a lot of debate about the use of castor oil for biodiesel, we feel that it is not a viable route. Sure, technically castor oil might be suitable to make biodiesel, except perhaps for its high kinematic viscosity, which could even be taken care of during transesterification.

The more important dimensions are the economics and volumes which make castor oil quite unattractive as a feedstock for biodiesel:

  • Economics – Price of biodiesel needs to be in the range $900-$1000 per ton; price of castor oil alone is $1300/T.
  • Volumes – World produces about 20 million T of biodiesel every year; world castor oil production is less than 1 million T!

In fact, we have been generous on the price aspect. If the current downtrend in crude prices continues, biodiesel might have to sell at less than $700 per T. We dont see how castor oil could support such a price.

On volumes, castor is produced in such small quantities, it really is going to make little difference overall to the biodiesel market.

And when especially the same castor oil oil could be sold at a much higher price to end users who would be willing to pay a much higher price for the oil or the derivative, we do not see how castor oil biodiesel could work out on any sizable scale.

Water- Containing Castor Oil/ Diesel Microemulsion- A Potential Green Fuel

Microemulsion technique is employed to reduce the viscosity of vegetable oils, which is  used as the source of renewable fuels. A recent study is conducted by Ren zhu et al., on the phase behavior of microemulsion and the solubilization mechanism of water and castor oil, in order to evaluate the solubilization capacity of water and castor oil in diesel under given conditions. The proper concentration of rhamnolipid (RL) was 50 g/L. N-octanol was certified as an ideal cosurfactant with the optimal cosurfactant/surfactant (C/S) mass ratio (w/w) of 0.60. The optimum castor oil/diesel (V/D) volume ratio (v/v) was 0.18. Moreover, fuel properties of water-containing castor oil/diesel (WCD) microemulsion were identified. The thermal and storage stability of WCD microemulsion were also conducted. Compared with castor oil, WCD microemulsion has lower viscosity, which presents similar fuel characteristics as diesel.

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Kaiima Seed Tech Company of Israel Gets $65 Million

Kaima seed company of Israel, has received $65 million investment to continue developing its technology for edible wheat, corn, and rice markets,and castor biodiesel.

Investors include the socially conscious Horizons Ventures, managing the private pay-it-forward investments of Li Ka-shing (Horizon previously invested in Facebook and the Israeli startup Waze); the International Financial Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group; and Infinity Group.

Kaiima currently has a commercial product available for castor plants. Read more:


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Castor Bean Proteins Mapped;Results Unconvincing For Castor Biodiesel

Danish scientists say a study of one biodiesel source plant — the castor bean — predicts problems if it’s considered for large-scale use as a fuel source.

While countries like Brazil and India grow large quantities of castor oil beans that can be refined into bio-diesel, the beans contain allergens and also the extremely potent poison ricin, meaning bean pulp left after extraction of the oil cannot be used for animal feed and becomes a problematic waste byproduct.

“Therefore we are interested in finding out if it in some way could be possible to eliminate the allergenic proteins and the ricin from the beans, so that the pulp can be used for animal feed,” said biochemist Peter Roepstorff at the University of Southern Denmark.

Roepstorff and a team of Danish/Brazilian colleagues have mapped thousands of proteins found in castor beans, with discouraging results.

While both ricin and the allergen 2S Albumin are only present in low amounts in the early development stages of the bean, they found, as the beans mature the content of ricin and 2S Albumin increases.

“Unfortunately, the mature beans also have the highest oil content and therefore an oil producer will not harvest the beans before they are fully mature,” Roepstorff said. “The price of optimizing the oil production is that you also get a toxic and allergenic pulp that cannot be used for animal feed.”

One option would be to eliminate the unwanted proteins by plant breeding, the researchers said. Another option is to remove them by genetic engineering

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/10/25/Plant-used-as-biodiesel-source-found-to-hide-poisonous-problem/UPI-64781382732589/#ixzz2j0K9ry69

Characterization of Blend Properties of Castor Biodiesel and Bioethanol

Some important properties of biodiesel such as viscosity, melting point, thermal stability, and cetane index can be directly related to the chemical composition of the biomass source used. However, the viscosity of castor oil ethyl ester (COEE) is about four times greater than the biodiesel viscosity specification, and this fact restricts the uses of this biofuel. The main goal of this work is to investigate the physical–chemical properties of COEE in ethanol blends and present an option to decrease the castor oil biodiesel viscosity specification. COEE viscosity is 14.413 mm2/s. The results show an evident decrease in biodiesel viscosity with the addition of ethanol. Samples with 30, 40, and 50 vol % of ethanol present the following viscosities 5.316, 4.044, and 3.136 mm2/s, respectively. These results are in agreement with Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural gas and Biodiesel (ANP), and European (EN 14214) specifications. Three correlations that describe the decrease in viscosity and density with ethanol concentration, and the variation of viscosity with the density in COEE ethanol blends were obtained. The behavior of COEE ethanol blends with diesel also were analyzed. The increase in solubility of ethanol in commercial diesel was verified because COEE acts as a cosolvent in an ethanol–diesel mixture.


Pumpsets Can Now Use Castor Oil As A Fuel

Sheik Mastan Vali, a Indian mechanic by profession, who has been crusading the use of castor oil to run motor cars and protect the environment from pollution, has designed a novel agricultural pumpset, which could be operated using castor oil.

He claims that one litre diesel would help the farmer to operate the pumping machine for one hour, but the castor oil would help him operate the machine for three to four hours because of the presence of natural lubricants in castor oil.

A prototype pump engine which uses the castor oil can lift water from wells with the depth of 70 meters.

Read more from: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/pumpset-that-runs-on-castor-oil-designed/article4285130.ece

Evofuel’s Castor Biodiesel Program Advancing

Evogene, an Israel based plant genomics company , has recently released its second quarter and first half 2013 financial results. During which, the company stated that Evofuel, one of their subsidiaries, whose mission is the development of second generation feedstock for biodiesel, is in the process of completing the third year of field trials for the advanced castor varieties in northeast Brazil. Evofuel’s  efforts to introduce a commercially viable alternative feedstock for biodiesel based on castor seeds in Brazil and Argentina seem to be strong on the track according to the press release.


Castor Oil for Biodiesel – Global Initiatives

While castor oil is unlikely to be a significant contributor to the biodiesel industry in the next 3-5 years owing to its high cost and low production volumes, in specific cases and regions it could play a limited role as a biodiesel feedstock. This blog summarizes some of the initiatives that are being taken in order to explore the viability of castor oil as a biodiesel feedstock.

  • In January 2012, Israel-based plant breeding company, Evogene Ltd (www.evogene.com)., launched a wholly owned subsidiary, Evofuel Ltd., to accelerate the development and commercialization of castor bean varieties in Brazil for biodiesel and biojet fuel production. Evofuel, then entered into an a collaboration with T6 industrial  to develop castor bean varieties and evaluate them under rain fed conditions as an effective drought tolerant and oil yielding crop in Argentina. Earlier, in 2010, Evogene Ltd. conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of biodiesel production from castor bean varieties. Results showed that Evogene’s castor bean biodiesel
    • Reduces net GHG emissions by 90% in the U.S. and more than 75% in Brazil compared with conventional diesel, if grown in non-arable or marginal land.
    • Exceeds the GHG savings achieved with soybean biodiesel, with reductions for the U.S. of 43% compared to soybean.
  • The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (www.pcj.com) along with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI, www.cardi.org ) launched a pilot project in 2011 to trial biodiesel production from castor oil and Jatropha. The research and development phase of the project will involve the cultivation and harvesting of six varieties of the oil nuts, to determine their oil content, harvesting potential and relative productivity.  The oil nuts will be cultivated on mined-out bauxite lands between April, 2011 and March, 2014.
  • In 2012, Rokim Group Limited (www.rokimgroup.co.ke) based in Kenya, started growing hybrid castor beans for the production of high grade bio diesel for the utilization in road transport, power generation and industrial sector in Kenya.
  • In Nov 2012, Mexican researchers at the University of Puebla (BUAP) have begun experimenting with biodiesel production from castor oil, fuel that will later be used to run the university’s transport system. The pilot plant under development will produce up to 72,000 liters of biodiesel daily.
  • In India, the Center for Jatropha Promotion, CJP (www.jatrophaworld.org) is researching farming castor in conjunction with the Pongamia Pinnata and Indian Mustard.
  • Israeli NGO, KerenHayesod – United Israel Appeal                         (www.kh-uia.org.il ) along with the National government has set up castor bean enhancement program which involves crop improvement in castor to achieve better yields of seed and oil for its subsequent use as a feedstock in industrial production of biodiesel. It will be carried by six senior scientists, specialized six different principles of agriculture including biotechnology and the project cost is estimated to be US$ 300,000.
  • Three Israeli companies – alternative energy company Ormat (www.ormat.com), plant breeding company Evogene (www.evogene.com), and the real estate developer the Lev Leviev Group (www.thelevievgroup.com) signed an agreement, in 2008, to produce biodiesel from castor oil. Leviev already owns mining concessions in Nambia, where the biofuel will be harvested, Ormat’s subsidary Orfuel has substantial experience in biofuel R&D, and Evogene is a leading company in plant genetics and breeding.
  • Petrobras Biocombustível (www.petrobras.com.br) is producing biodiesel from castor beans. Petrobras’s fuel was obtained with a blend of 30% castor bean oil and 70% sunflower seed oil, both produced by farmers who participate in the company’s oleaginous plant supply programs.  The company made its first delivery of biodiesel containing a blend of bean oil in its composition in November 2009.