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Biodiesel from Palm, Palm Oil as Bio-diesel, Biofuel - Reference & Resources

Nature gave us oil from algae; perhaps we should try Nature’s way again

Biodiesel from Palm Oil – Palm Oil as Biofuel

Malaysia and Indonesia are starting pilot-scale production from palm oil. Palm oil so far proved to be efficient as biodiesel.

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  • Palm Oil as a Fuel for Agricultural Diesel Engines: Comparative Testing against Diesel Oil - by Gumpon Prateepchaikul* and Teerawat Apichato** (*M.Eng.Sc. (Mechanical Engineering), Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkla 90112, Thailand; **Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkla 90112, Thailand); SONGKLANAKARIN Journal of Science and Technology Vol.25 No.3 May-June 2003 – Abstract - Gumpon Prateepchaikul with Prince of Songkla University's Faculty of Engineering 5-litre laboratory-scale biodiesel reactor (designed by Prof. Michael Allen) - Due to unstable oil price situation in the world market, many countries have been looking for alternative energy to substitute petroleum. Vegetable oil is one of the alternatives which can be used as fuel in automotive engines either in the form of straight vegetable oil, or in the form of ethyl or methyl ester. This paper presents a comparative performance testing of diesel engine using diesel oil and refined palm oil over 2,000 hours of continuous running time. Short-term performance testing was conducted for each fuel on the dynamometer engine test bed. Specific fuel consumption, exhaust temperature and black smoke density were determined and measured. Long-term performance testing (or endurance test) was also done by running the engines coupled with a generator in order to supply load (electricity) to a lightbulb board. For each 500 hours of engine run time, the engines were dissembled for engine wear inspection. It was found that the fuel pump and fuel valve weight losses from both engines showed insignificant differences either at the first 500 hours of running time or at the second 500 hours of running time but the inlet valve from the engine fueled by diesel oil had higher weight loss than the engine fueled by refined palm oil at the first 500 hours and at the second 500 hours of running time. The compression rings from the engine fueled by refined palm oil showed a significant weight loss compared to the engine fueled by diesel oil both at the first 500 hours and at the second 500 hours of running time. Read the full report from here @ Journey to Forever. Key words : refined palm oil, diesel engine test, palm oil fuel substitute
  • Palm Oil Biodiesel from
  • Consultant Says Palm Oil Biodiesel has More Potential – from New Energy Report
  • Malaysia to Switch to Palm Oil Bio-diesel – from Happy News
  • Palm Oil Biodiesel has More Potential for Longevity?
  • German consultant says palm oil Biodiesel has more potential for longevity - Wolgang Rupilius, a consultant from Germany, says that biodiesel based on palm oil is more likely to stand up to certain conditions than biodiesel based on canola oil, the Malaysian National News Agency reports, but opponents of the oil fear harvesting it could seriously damage the habitat of orangutans. Read more from this article at New Energy Report
  • Asian Palm Oil for Euro Biodiesel - May 2005 news - Asian palm oil could supply up to 20% of the European Union’s biodiesel needs by 2010, Pascal Cogels, the head of Fediol, the EU’s vegetable oils federation, told Reuters. The reason is price: palm oil is one of the least expensive vegetable oils. The winners in that scenario would be Malaysia, which produces 45% of the world’s palm oil and Indonesia (39%). Read the full report from here @ Green Car Congress

Content derived from Wikipedia article on Palm Oil

Palm oil - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Palm oil is a form of edible vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Previously the second-most widely produced edible oil, after soybean oil, it may have now surpassed soybean oil as the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world.

The palm fruit is the source of both palm oil (extracted from palm fruit) and palm kernel oil (extracted from the fruit seeds). Babassu oil is extracted from the kernels of the Babassu palm.

Palm oil itself is reddish because it contains a high amount of betacarotene. It is used as cooking oil, to make margarine and is a component of many processed foods. Boiling it a few minutes destroys the carotenoids and the oil becomes white.

Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils relatively high in saturated fats (such as coconut oil) and thus semi-solid at room temperature.


1 History

2 Chemical composition

3 Environmental and cultural impact

4 Palm Oil as Biodiesel

5 Health

6 Palm oil and blood cholesterol controversy

7 References

8 Social and environmental palm oil links

9 Other palm oil links


Palm oil (from the African Oil Palm, Elais Guineensis) was long recognized in West African countries, and among West African peoples it is in widespread use as a cooking oil. European merchants trading with West Africa occasionally purchased palm oil for use in Europe, but as the oil was bulky and cheap, and due to the much higher profits available from slave-trading, palm oil remained rare outside West Africa. During the early nineteenth century, the decline of the Atlantic slave trade and Europe's demand for legitimate commerce (trade in material goods rather than human lives) obliged African countries to seek new sources of trade revenue. In the Asante Confederacy, state-owned slaves built large plantations of oil palm trees, while in the neighbouring Kingdom of Dahomey, King Ghezo passed a law in 1856 forbidding his subjects from cutting down oil palms. Palm oil became a highly sought-after commodity by British traders, the oil being used as industrial lubricant for the machines of Britain's ongoing Industrial Revolution, as well as forming the basis for different brands of soap such as Palmolive. By c.1870, palm oil constituted the primary export of some West African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. By the 1880s, cocoa had become more highly sought-after, leading to the decline of the palm oil industry and trade within these countries.

Chemical composition

The palm oil and palm kernel oil are composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol just like any ordinary fat. Both are high in saturated fatty acids, about 50% and 80%, respectively. The oil palm gives its name to the 16 carbon saturated fatty acid palmitic acid found in palm oil; monounsaturated oleic acid is also a constituent of palm oil while palm kernel oil contains mainly lauric acid. Palm oil is the largest natural source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family. Palm oil is also high in vitamin K and dietary magnesium.

Napalm derives its name from naphthenic acid, palmitic acid and pyrotechnics or simply from a recipe using naphtha and palm oil.

The proximate concentration of fatty acids (FAs) in palm oil is as follows:

Saturated (total : 49.9%)

Palmitic C16:0 44.3%

Stearic C18:0 4.6%

Myristic C14:0 1.0%


Oleic C18:1 38.7%


Linoleic C18:2 10.5%

For palm kernel oil the fatty acid content is :

Saturated (total : 82%)

Lauric C12:0 48.2%

Myristic C14:0 16.2%

Palmitic C16:0 8.4%

Capric C10:0 3.4%

Caprylic C8:0 3.3%

Stearic C18:0 2.5%


Oleic C18:1 15.3%


Linoleic C18:2 2.3%

Environmental and cultural impact

Demand for palm oil is rising and is expected to climb further, particularly for use in biodiesel (see below). Biodiesel is promoted as a form of renewable energy that greatly reduces net emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and therefore its use is being touted as a way to decrease the impact of the Greenhouse Effect and also the possibility of peak oil.

However, there is increasing concern from environmental and other NGOs about the social and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry. Large areas of tropical forest are being cleared to make room for the plantations, thus destroying the habitat of a number of endangered species, in particular, the orangutan populations on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.[4] In addition, clearing of tropical forests is one of the leading causes of climate change.

A related issue is the conversion of Indonesian peat bogs into plantations, a practise driven by the global demand for palm oil, hardwood, and paper pulp. Such practises are responsible for 2000 million tonnes of CO2 emitted annually in Indonesia: 600 million tonnes from the decomposition of dry peat, and 1400 million tonnes from fires resulting from the draining of the bogs.[5] Moreover, the plantations are often run by agribusiness companies, and local residents in places like West Papua and Kalimantan are losing out on jobs to migrant workers.

Orangutan experts around the world have unified to recognise that continued development of the palm oil sector, if done unsustainably, is the single greatest threat to the future of orangutans in the wild. The best professional estimates state that if the industry is not regulated then within 12 years we may witness the disappearance of orangutans from the wild. Other species that are critically threatened by disappearance of the forests include the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros.

Palm Oil as Biodiesel

The Malaysian government is refocusing the use of palm oil to the production of biodiesel to cater to the huge demand from European countries; it has encouraged the building of biodiesel plants. This is due to the higher prices of fuel and increasing demand for alternative sources of energy in the Western world.

 The plants will start operating middle of next year and produce 100,000 tonnes of biodiesel annually. Strong demand for biodiesel from Europe as well as Colombia, India, South Korea and Turkey has fueled the industry's growth as more countries seek to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

 Malaysia has already begun preparations to change from diesel to bio-fuels by 2008, including drafting legislation that will make the switch mandatory. From 2007, all diesel sold in Malaysia must contain 5% palm oil. Being the world's largest producer of crude palm oil, Malaysia intends to take advantage of the rush to find cleaner fuels.

 With the growing emphasis on biodiesels presenting a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels it is important to recognise that these benefits are partly negated when forest is cleared to make room for biodiesel crops such as oil palm. NGOs are now alerting the international arena to the fact that despite millions of hectares of land standing unplanted in Indonesia there is still clearance of tropical hardwood forest for palm oil plantations. Furthermore, as the remaining unprotected lowland forest dwindles, developers are looking to peat swamp for conversion, which causes a draining of the peat, which not only unlocks the carbon in the surface covering of trees, but begins an oxidation process of the carbon in the peat reserve--which can be between 5,000 to 10,000 years worth of carbon locked into the ground. Drained peat is also at very high risk of forest fire, and there is a clear record of fire being used to clear vegetation for palm oil development in Indonesia.

 On 23 Nov 2006 Australia's first palm oil based biodiesel plant was opened in Darwin. When fully operational in 2007 this plant should produce 140 million litres of biodiesel annually.


Please help improve this article by introducing appropriate citations. (help, get involved!) This article has been tagged since February 2007.

 Among the touted health benefits of palm oil, most notably red palm oil, are:

 Rich in betacarotenes, especially red palm oil.

 Crude palm oil is considered the richest natural source of carotenoids (about 15 times more than in carrots). Carotenoids are a group of more than 700 compounds (e.g. alpha-carotene, beta-carotene) that produce the red, yellow, and orange colours found in many fruits and vegetables. The human body uses carotenoids as Vitamin A which enhances eye health. Carotenoids also play an important potential role by acting as biological antioxidants, protecting cells and tissues from the damaging effect of free radicals, which could cause cancer. Studies also suggest that carotenoids enhance immune function by a variety of mechanisms, and improve cardiovascular health. Red palm oil is a form of processed palm oil (deacidified and deodorised) which retains 80% of the original carotenoids, making it a remarkable source of Vitamin A.

 High in tocotrienols, an antioxidant with other possible health benefits

 Natural vitamin E exists in eight different forms or isomers, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Natural palm oil contains alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocopherols and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocotrienols. No other natural source contains this much vitamin E. Tocotrienols in Vitamin E have been found to have many beneficial properties, among them antioxidant and anti-cancer activities. Probably the most important finding in recent research on tocotrienol was its role in inhibiting human breast cancer cells. Tocotrienols have also been demonstrated to lower blood cholesterol levels, by reacting with certain enzymes in the liver which produces cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties bring many benefits to the human body, such as preventing skin aging, preventing fat oxidation, reducing blood pressure and many more.

Other minor nutrients

Palm oil contained about 10% linoleic acid, which is an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. Linoleic acid is one of the two essential fatty acids that humans require. Palm oil also contains small amounts of squalene (possible cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer properties) and ubiquinone (energy booster).

 Red palm oil is rich in co-enzyme Q10

Reasons for choosing palm oil:

Palm oil is an excellent dietary energy source.

Palm oil is a very rich source of Vitamin A and E.

Palm oil is a stable oil in high temperatures (good for frying).

Palm oil is a cheap vegetable oil (due to the oil palm's high productivity).

Reasons to not choose palm oil:

Palm oil has a high saturated fat content, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Palm oil and blood cholesterol controversy

For many years now, it has been established that the primary cholesterol-elevating fatty acids are the saturated fatty acids with 12 (lauric acid), 14 (myristic acid) and 16 (palmitic acid) carbon atoms with a concomitant increase in the risk of coronary heart disease. Monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid is as effective in reducing serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels as polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linoleic acid. The World Health Organization in its report states there is convincing evidence that palmitic oil consumption contributes to an increased risk of developing of cardiovascular diseases.

A study by a group of researchers in China comparing palm, soybean, peanut oils and lard showed that palm oil actually increased the levels of good cholesterol and reduced the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood (Zhang, et al, 1995, 1997 cited by Koh, 2006).

A study by Hornstra in 1990 also showed similar results.


^ United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics 2004. Table 3-51.

^ Malaysian Oil Palm Statistics 2005. Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

^ Ang, Catharina Y. W., KeShun Liu, and Yao-Wen Huang, eds. (1999). Asian Foods




^ Vessby,B.1994. INFORM 5(2):182-185.

^ Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (WHO Technical Report Series 916. Geneva. 2003. pages 82, 88 &c)

^ Koh, C.S. 2006. Comments On Draft Document: Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases.

^ Hornstra, 1990 `Effects of dietary Lipids on some aspects of the cardiovascular risk profile'. In G. Ziant [ed.], LIPIDS AND HEALTH.

End of Wikipedia content


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