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Development of a combined heat and power plant in the lower wattage range with vegetable oil supply (ASTRA2006/004)

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Geo-spatial type
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Low-emission alternative energy for transport (ALT)
Transport mode
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Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The end of 2008 saw the successful conclusion of the CTI-Project „Rapeseed Oil Block Heat and Power Plant“ (BHKW) carried out by the Agricultural Engineering department of the Swiss College of Agriculture (SHL) and its commercial and sponsorship partners. Two lasting values remain: a small oil mill for extracting high quality rapeseed oil fuel and a modern block heat and power plant run with the locally produced oil.


Main objectives of the project are as follows:

  • To furnish the scientifically tested and optimised technology for the use of cold-pressed untreated vegetal oil in heat and power plants in the lower wattage range.
  • Establish a heat and power plant with a capacity of 130 kWmech and 110 kWel and an efficiency coefficient of hel = 37 %, which runs trouble-free with untreated vegetal oil and meets the Swiss emission limits according to the Ordinance on Air Pollution Control OAPC
  • Detailed emission measurements with special emphasis on particulate matter to allow the transfer of the experiences to mobile engines.
  • Establish a decentralised oil pressing facility as a reference plant to guarantee the supply of sufficient rape-seed oil meeting the quality standards defined by the Weihenstephaner-Norm.

The project consists of the following workpackages:

Work Package 1: provision of motor and combined heat and power plant  (CHP)

  • Task 1a: Simulation to optimise the engine
  • Task 1b: motor preparation and vegetable oil conversion
  • Exercise 1c: bench tests
  • Task 1d: Assembly and placement of CHP

Work Package 2: plant for oil extraction

  • Task 2: Supply small oil mill
  • Task 2b: Installation small oil mill
  • Task 2c: Commissioning and oil supply in accordance with RK Quality Standard 05/2000

Work Package 3: build trouble-free continuous operation CHP

  • Task 3a: Motor-related experiments with CHP
  • Task 3b: Emissions-related experiments with CHP

Work package 4: Agronomic and ecological investigations on potential industrial rape

  • Task 4a: literature search and inventory
  • Task 4b: Evaluation of "energy oilseed rape”

Work Package 5: Project Management and Reporting

  • Task 5: Project Management
  • Task 5b: Reporting and Transfer 


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss Government: State Secretariat for Education and Research
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The project was a common effort of the private sector, funding agencies, and institutes of higher education. Its main success was the exemplary extraction of rapeseed oil fit for energy purposes and its trouble-free application for diesel motors with a minimum of polluting emissions.

The operation of the Suberg research oil mill and the introduction of the process of adsorptive reduction of motor and catalytic toxins of phosphorus, magnesium and calcium in rapeseed oil mark the introduction of a model cold press system acclaimed throughout Europe for extracting high quality rapeseed oil for energy purposes (RK).

Within the processing of rapeseed from the Lyssbachtal, this reference project has created a niche market for local energy cycles. In extensive test bench measurements at the HTA Biel with a series of fuels to be compared, the RK showed advantageous results when the Liebherr project motor was set in operation, at full capacity or the upper end of partial capacity. Results were also positive with regard to specific consumption (efficiency), performance, and emissons – including nanoparticles. However when idling, and when at the lower end of partial capacity, running the RK is unfavourable due to insufficiently intense combustion. Hug Engineering AG`s SCR-Denox/DPF-Unit achieved levels below the limits of the Ordinance on Air Polllution Control (LRV) under generator conditions. In October 2008 the BHKW constructed by SEnergie GmbH (Stulz Hager+Elsässer Group) was set in operation for 559 hours using RK from locally grown rape. Here important observations for longterm operation were collected and presented.

The results showed that there is no problem operating the engine optimised for RK round the clock. The oil mill and the BHKW were delivered, as planned, to project partner and contractor, Peter Stähli in Suberg bei Grossaffoltern BE by mid-November 2008 for use in the private sector. Results so far and the expected development in the energy sector show this reference project to be a promising niche model for a local, not very capital-intensive energy supply with largely closed cycles.

Innovation aspects

Assessment if the  the supply of sufficient rape-seed oil meet the quality standards defined by the Weihenstephaner-Norm.

Policy implications

The renewable power source will support the sustainability of transport 


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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