Biofuel issues pure oils

The raw vegetable oil sector: problematic. by Yves LUBRANIÉCKI

Key words: greenhouse effect, extreme poverty, depletion of oil resources, pure vegetable oil used for energy purposes, agriculture


Currently, humanity faces three of the most massive dangers it has encountered since birth:

1 - the increase in the greenhouse effect which squarely endangers biodiversity because of the speed of climate change,

2 - the end of oil, when the entire world economy is built on oil,

3 - the increasingly unbearable imbalance between rich countries and poor countries which, beyond unacceptable human aspects, generates geopolitical tensions increasing all around the world.

The crux of these difficulties is access to energy. However, only one source of energy today provides good answers to these questions: "pure vegetable oil" (HVP), we also speak of "crude vegetable oil" (HVB).

In fact, using unmodified vegetable oil instead of a part, the largest possible, of fossil fuels allows significant improvements thanks to a stabilization of the greenhouse effect, thanks to the implementation of an economy that preserves non-renewable fuel reserves and through the development of healthy economic activity in poor countries.
However, there are three unavoidable conditions to ask in advance, otherwise the remedy may deteriorate even faster the natural environment.


Despite the progression of a certain awareness over the past forty years, the environmental threat has not ceased to become clearer and amplified, in particular in three forms:

1st threat: The greenhouse effect

Today, and only a few years ago, the population has begun to become aware of a danger which is specific in its global nature. It extends to the entire planet and threatens all species by causing their environment to vary by a modification, already underway, global and too rapid in the Earth's climate. This is the increase in the greenhouse effect.
Its cause is biblically simple, essentially since the industrial revolution of 1850, man has been releasing into the atmosphere and in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) the carbon that plants have fixed for 300 million years. to make what we call "fossil fuels": coal, natural gas and oil. However, CO2 is one of the largest greenhouse gases and there is no such thing as a “clean” fossil fuel. If we put fossil carbon at the inlet, we have the same amount of fossil carbon at the outlet, whatever we do.
A figure, just to illustrate: 6 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions of human origin in 1950, 22 billion in 1989, 24 billion in 2000 (Source: US Department of Energy [1]).
With, among others, the 8% and more annual growth rate of China and India which is added to those of the United States, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Turkey, etc., the This phenomenon is not about to be reversed knowing that, roughly speaking, one point of economic growth results in a one point increase in energy demand and therefore in CO2 emissions.

2th threat: the lack of oil.

Experts are beginning to express very strong fears about when oil will start to run out. Thus, we are taking a first important step: the one where, definitively, the volume of demand exceeds the volume of discoveries of new reserves [2].
The next course, known as “peak oil” is when the demand for oil will definitely exceed supply. This fateful date continues to move according to expertise, but more and more clearly, it seems to approach in a threatening way for the economy of the world [3]. In any case, whether there are 5 years or 100 years of oil left does not change the fact that to date we do not know how to answer the question: "What will we replace oil with?" ".

3rd threat: extreme poverty

At the same time, the difference between rich countries and poor countries improves markedly between North and Asia or between North and South America, but remains stubbornly unbearable between North and Africa. It does not "remain" unbearable, it continues to worsen with, in particular, countries of West Africa, Central Africa or East Africa blocked in an incompatible health, administrative and political situation. with the slightest hope of development in the short or even medium term. With 25,4 million people living with HIV (source UNAIDS). In addition, the official agency “Roll Back Malaria” observes that “economists attribute to (alone) malaria an annual growth deficit of up to 1,3% in some African countries” [4]. Imagine the growth of France cut by one percent by a single disease!

There is no undue pessimistic charge in this triple observation which is unfortunately no longer contested by experts worthy of the name. We still have to wait for political decisions to restore a little serenity to the future of our children and theirs.
Of course, given the economic issues involved, many are those who propose the solution that best suits, not the situation, but their interests. They thus completely ignore the dangers that their irresponsible attitude poses "for real" to humanity.

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However, there is a solution ...

A solution likely to provide a good response to the three threats mentioned above: the pure vegetable oil sector.

This consists in using unmodified vegetable oil, simply decanted, degummed and filtered at 3 microns, in place of fuel oil or diesel in the uses of diesel fuel or fuel used with an oil burner for heating.
In all these applications (this does not concern the gasoline sector), vegetable oil perfectly replaces petroleum.

Simply, today, it is not possible directly in a massive way, it would be necessary to make some very simple technical modifications to the devices used. For example, in some older cars with Bosch injection pump and indirect injection, 100% sunflower or rapeseed oil can be used without modification (maybe just install a small oil heating system for the 'winter).
Most conventional diesel vehicles can use up to 50% sunflower or rapeseed oil without major modification. The most modern engines require the most important modifications. They should be designed from the outset to work with vegetable oil. It is neither more nor less complicated than what is done today for an operation with oil.

Notably since the work of Dr. Ludwig Elsbett, a German engineer who, in the 80s, had invented and developed a diesel engine that was perfectly flexible with petroleum and all existing oils, pure or mixed in any proportion ( 2000 usable vegetable oils are listed around the planet).

It is essentially for political reasons that this engine, whose efficiency was comparable to the newer high pressure common rail diesels of today, has never been manufactured industrially. Today, it is necessary for humanity to see industrialists take up these ideas to finally produce it on a large scale.

In Germany, auto mechanics modify vehicles on demand to allow them to use crude vegetable oil as fuel. This is allowed in Germany but not yet in France. However, since May 8, 2003, a European directive (N °: 2003/30 / EC) allows Member States to give this authorization [5]. But, to this day, it is still not done in France. What difference can therefore justify this French attitude?

Why thus defend the use of vegetable oil instead of petroleum?

First of all, we must remember and keep in mind that the most useful and intelligent source of energy is that of energy savings, nothing should be done in this area without first optimizing the use Energy.

But, that quickly finds a limit when one reads the figures of the growth rates of Asian countries or North American consumption. Even though economies are extremely efficient everywhere, they will not change the problem much; they will just make it possible to "win" a few years, or even a few decades, but they will have relatively little greenhouse effect and will have no effect on the extreme poverty of certain countries.

Also, subject to compliance with the three sine qua conditions not set out below, we can strongly recommend the massive use of crude vegetable oil because it provides a simple and effective response to the three threats mentioned above.

1 - Regarding the greenhouse effect, the fact of using a fuel of unmodified vegetable origin makes it possible to ensure a balance between the carbon fixed by the plant during its maturation and the carbon releases into the atmosphere linked to its combustion. We go through an annual carbon cycle and, in total, there is no more increase in the rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

2 - Regarding the lack of oil, the fact of having recourse to an unmodified vegetable sector makes it possible to envisage the use of this fuel for the entire sector, from the start of the crop to the spillage of the fuel into the vehicle tank or the burner. No need for oil from one end of the chain to the other.

Today, this is not the case, when we hear about “biodiesel”, we are talking about methyl ester of vegetable oil. But this one, first, is cultivated with the use of petroleum in the machines of culture, collection and transport then distribution. Then, it is the object of forcing by fertilizers very greedy in fossil energy and themselves release with the use of the nitrous oxide which is a powerful gas with greenhouse effect. Finally, it is obtained by heating (a lot of energy needed) the pressurized oil (a lot of energy needed) in the presence of an alcohol (a lot of energy needed to produce it). So much so that, if we take the total eco-assessment of the use of this “modified oil” sector, we see that it is extremely disappointing.

It would be immeasurably easier to modify at the origin, in their manufacture, the engines or the burners so that they could consume directly and indifferently pure oil or petroleum or a mixture of the two. It is understandable that this would not pose any technical problem (except to persist in not wanting to resolve them), but only a political problem.

Yes or no, will we agree to leave our grandchildren a planet without oil with a seriously and durably broken climate or will we use this technology that is easy to access and use?

3 - Regarding the fight against extreme poverty, the cultivation of oilseeds is possible in almost all climates, that is, in all latitudes. This is a capital difference with oil which is not, far from it, evenly distributed around the planet. It is this parsimony in the distribution of oilfields that is at the origin of all the geopolitical complications that humanity has experienced since oil became king. How many millions of men and women on this planet have seen their lives, their freedom or their dignity sacrificed in the name of the access of the richest to the oil God?

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What if there was another way? A way that makes it possible to make many countries, some of them very poor, the poorest, producers of energy wealth. A path that would considerably reduce the notion of energy dependence since many countries, starting with our own, would become producers, even traders of energy, with more “shock” to be feared.

The idea here is to complete our European production by developing as much as possible the cultivation of oilseed plants, some of which are very productive, on land today unused. These crops could provide work and income to populations currently suffering from great poverty without jeopardizing the standard of living and employment in rich countries.

For once, there would be no contradiction, but complementarity of interests between the North and the South.

Required surfaces

In our reasoning, a liter of oil weighs about 920 grams.

The most productive oilseed in the world is the Guinean palm (Elæis guineensis). Per year, it produces at least 3 liters of palm oil per hectare and, another advantage, it fixes several tons of CO500 per year per hectare for 2 years. It obviously grows in hot countries and requires water to produce well. If we use it as a somewhat theoretical reference, to settle ideas: to replace a quarter of the 25 billion tonnes of oil that man currently consumes per year, 3 millions of Km2 would have to be cultivated, about 5,5 times the surface of France.

In Europe, rapeseed or sunflower yields approximately 8 to 900 liters per year per hectare and the arrival of our twelve new European partners will considerably change the situation in this area because some have large agricultural areas and they will have to review their practices in the light of the forthcoming Common Agricultural Policy. These changes, combined with an energy policy giving pride of place to pure vegetable oil, will allow the cultivation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of oilseeds.

In poor countries, such areas - even hectares counting into the millions - are either left fallow for lack of markets for a particular crop, or ravaged by deforestation or burning and doomed to waste. 'abandonment because of the disappearance of the humus necessary for cultivation.

All these lands could be used for the cultivation of certain very productive oilseeds such as jatropha, which will also have the advantage of (re) constituting a humus and thus of enhancing these abandoned or in the process of being soils (The scientific name of the jatropha is jatropha curcas L. - 650 to 800 liters per hectare [6]).

Here as there, all this oil produced there will be the object of a trade: either locally, the village or the city produces its own energy (in both senses of the term), or nationally or internationally, the peasants organized into a cooperative supplying a vast market with energy oil that operates either vehicles or thermal power stations here and there. Let us not forget that this sector can run on oil from one end to the other with, as a consequence: very little emission of greenhouse gases during operation.

3 conditions sine qua non

These ideas immediately appear attractive, but they are only so on three cumulative and imperative conditions. Only one of these conditions is not met and change is not possible.

Condition 1: a technical, financial and political condition :

At first glance, this issue appears to be the bearer of interests opposed to those of the oil companies, but in fact it is not for two reasons: the first is that, sooner or later, they will be forced into heart-wrenching reconversions and the industry Pure vegetable oil is by far the least different and the least traumatic way for them to overcome the obstacle. Vegetable oil is the product that most closely resembles petroleum. The second is that the job of selling oil is the closest to a job that does not yet exist on a global scale: selling energy vegetable oil. (Because the sector does not exist, we cannot speak of price today: there is no demand, therefore there is no supply, therefore there is no The oils marketed today are not purely energetic, so they present specifications - and therefore production and marketing costs - which are not those of future energetic oils).

The tankers have the equipment and the know-how and putting them in the loop is the best way to get their cooperation rather than their opposition. We can also make the same remark for the oil mills.

If we want the system to work, we need a follow-up in the same quality as that we know for petroleum or for edible or industrial oil. Only these professionals are able to work the question until success within an acceptable time frame.

It is perhaps appropriate to ask them to think, with the engine manufacturers, of a product composed of a mixture of different unmodified oils with an energy potential and a fluidity followed which would be comparable everywhere in the world.

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A bit like with petroleum today, we could optimize products for different types of uses: a - road vehicles and small boats or ships, b - trains and medium boats or ships, airplanes with diesel piston engines, c - large ships and diesel power stations, thermal power stations and, finally, jets. This may be the future of oil ...

For this system to be put in place, it also imperatively requires the collaboration of political leaders because they have the legitimacy to impose international solutions. It is up to them to set the local taxation which will determine the consumer price.
This system finally requires the collaboration of the financiers because they have the means to finance the necessary investments.

The following second and third conditions must be the subject of an imperative legal obligation for the validity of each supply contract and must be recorded in a written specification which must accompany the delivery.

If the specifications are not duly respected, the delivery must not take place. If such a restrictive legal procedure is not followed, the ideas contained in this note should not be implemented (This particular point is moreover in line with the spirit of the aforementioned Directive 2003/30 / EC. See for example: Art. 4 point 2 Point d).

Condition 2: an agricultural condition.

If this condition is not met, not only is change not possible, but it is not even desirable because the cure would be worse than the disease. It is the same if we practice deforestation to plant oilseeds. It is better to continue with fossil fuels, destruction will also be inevitable, but a little slower ...

For the aforementioned reason that the use of chemicals in agriculture generates enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, it is absolutely imperative that the cultivation methods used for the production of oilseeds involve an agricultural concept. sustainable (that is, conserves resources and avoids chemicals). Or, at a minimum, sustainable agriculture (chemicals are used, but only when necessary and only the necessary quantity), otherwise, the remedy will be worse than the disease.

One could also mention the "integrated" agriculture which is a concept where the approach of exploitation is global. It takes into account the interactions between the different species cultivated close to each other to minimize the use of chemical inputs and to increase the beneficial effect of the complementarity of the natural processes between them [7].
A resource seems very promising and is currently the subject of studies in several American universities, it is oleaginous microalgae (diatoms). They would contain large quantities of oil, would have a possibility of harvests at a very fast rate and would require little surface for a big yield [8].

In all cases, the elements to be protected to the maximum at the highest political level in the world are: water, air, soil, biodiversity and landscapes because they are the most valuable natural common goods for humanity.

Condition 3: a commercial condition.

These proposals would miss half of their objective if they did not lead to a significant improvement in the lot of the poorest populations on Earth.
A human worthy of the name must no longer accept living comfortably on the same planet as the billions of men and women who do not even have the minimum subsistence level and who die each year by the millions of extreme poverty. This is all the more unbearable since there is now the present idea which makes it possible to guarantee both the essential of the standard of living of the richest and the access to a "real life" for the poorest knowing that " real life ”is not necessarily the transition to rock'n roll and brownish soda…
To achieve this result, it is essential that the collection and trade of oilseeds and oils be organized according to fair trade rules, otherwise the stated goal of developing poor countries will not be achieved and the differences will not be achieved. that amplify.

Encouraging poor countries to become producers and exporters of wealth (on their behalf) is probably more intelligent and useful than giving them only even large subsidies.
To orient the planet permanently towards this solution, we must launch a movement of opinion today that generates enough pressure on politicians to understand that we can not wait.

We are in the process of changing the era.
We are leaving a time when technocrats were looking for how to put the “vegetable oil” sector under the kingpins of King Oil.
We will soon enter a new era where the world's main source of energy in transport and heating will be pure vegetable oil and where oil will have to adapt to its demands.
We must look at this as a second chance that nature gives us. It's up to us not to make the same mistakes as with the deification of oil and up to us to optimize the resource and financial gains to ensure the future of our descendants. It is our responsibility. Pure vegetable oil is neither a king nor a god. It's an excellent tool for sustainable development, that's all.


[1] then "FAQ".
See: alineas # 9, # 12, # 22, # 27 and art. 2 point 2 point j and art. 3 point 2 point a.
[7] EU Report on Agricultural Biodiversity
[8] On this subject, see this page

Learn more: the excellent .pdf from the same author.

Benefits of pure vegetable oil as fuel

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