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.