Sunflower Oil Use in Biodiesel

What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

Can sunflower oil be used in biodiesel?
Biodiesel can be produced from any fat or oil such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, palm oil, tallow to name a few through a refinery process called transesterification. It is recommended that the sunflower oil be refined and de-waxed before blending it with diesel fuel.

Is sunflower oil a viable alternative in producing biodiesel?
In the USA market, sunflower oil is priced at a premium to soybean and canola oils due to demand from the food processing industry. The price premium may make it prohibitive to use sunflower oil in biodiesel.

Why the interest in sunflower oil for biodiesel?
Sunflower is a high oil content seed and average yields can produce 600 pounds of oil per acre, considerably more than soybeans. There is a great deal of interest from local areas for construction of small processing facilities for sunflower biodiesel production. It is most important that processing equipment be analyzed very carefully for small 'press' only facilities. In most cases a portion of the oil is left in the by-product meal thereby reducing economic efficiency.

Who can answer my questions about biodiesel?
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) maintains the largest library of biodiesel information in the US. Information can be requested by visiting the biodiesel web site at: by emailing the NBB at or by calling NBB's toll free number (800) 841-5849.
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