Volume 7, Issue 3 (March 2010)
The Potential of Biodiesel Production from Fatty Acid Methyl Esters of Some European/Mediterranean and Cosmopolitan Halophyte Seed Oils
Biodiesel fuel, mainly produced from edible vegetable oils, has been proposed as a renewable substitute for petroleum diesel. However, there is growing concern about its role in rising food prices, accelerating deforestation, and displacing existing agricultural production. Moreover, given the progressive shortages of freshwater resources and arable land, a major target of investigations is to evaluate the potential utilization of promising salt-tolerant halophytic non-food crops for the sustainable production of oil-rich biomass, which will be converted to fuel. In this paper, an attempt has been made to look into the potential of the exploitation of native halophytic plants in European and Mediterranean arid or semi-arid lands that can prosper in seawater or brackish waters for diesel production in Europe. Fatty acid (FA) profiles of seed oils of 37 European and Mediterranean halophytic plant species including some of cosmopolitan distribution were examined. The saponification number, iodine value (IV), cetane index (CI), and gross heat of combustion of FA methyl esters (FAMEs) of oils were calculated from reported FAMEs compositions, and they varied from 165.3 to 193.3, from 71.8 to 173.7, from 35.9 to 60.0, and from 39.86 to 40.41 MJ/kg, respectively. FA seed oil content and composition, IV, CI, linolenic acid ME, and polyunsaturated ME (with ≥4 double bonds) contents were used to predict the quality of FAME of oil for use as biodiesel, according to EN 14214 European standard. Crithmum maritimum and Crambe maritima, having more than 30 % fixed oil in their seeds, were found most suitable as alternative vegetable oil sources for the production of biodiesel.