This project is the fifth part of the overall project “Innovative techniques: Best available techniques in selected sectors”
The aim of this project was the survey and compilation of all production techniques used in Germany for Biodiesel and Biodiesel components as well as the development of environmental protection requirements, essential for the official approval, on the basis of the best available techniques (BAT). The determined data shall be integrated into new Best Available Techniques Reference Documents (BREF) accompanying the implementation of IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Directive 2008/1/EC.
As part of this project all literature available on biofuels was evaluated in the sense of the overall task. In addition, patent research took place to be able to derive well-founded statements on the optimization potential with regard to the development of any future technology for biofuels.
This pre-information was intended as basis for the detailed collection of production plant parameters at selected German Biodiesel and Bioethanol production plants. Despite the early involvement of all relevant plant operators, the Bioethanol industry did not agree to the compilation and assessment of any plant relevant data which means that the results of this study exclusively refer to Biodiesel production plants.
The data collection was carried at the companies by interviewing the staff responsible for operating the technology and its compliance with all license requirements by means of a detailed questionnaire, sometimes also accompanied by a tour of the plant.
The results of the interviews and their verification by additional calculations show the high level of the companies of the German Biodiesel industry when it comes to the low-emission operation of their plants including the almost complete use of by-products; though differences between the production plants also became apparent. Beside the operation in closed systems, the achievement of very good reaction turnover/conversion, and the internal recycling of reactants (here: methanol) or adjuvant (e.g. washing water), specific measures to minimize emissions (e.g. exhaust air scrubber) are taken in all sizeable production plants.
This positive basic assessment also comprises the energy input. Yet there is still some potential for optimization by plant specific individual measures, although they do not appear to be very economical. However, the assessment is that such improvements may at the most compensate the additional challenges which will result from the politically intended increase use of waste and residual materials instead of vegetable oils for example, the production of which was originally aimed at the production of fuel.
In view of the assessment of the result of this project, for Biodiesel production plants in Germany there is no need to stipulate any additional regulatory measures – exceeding those of the state of the art – to reduce emissions. Also, the stipulation of specific energy consumption indexes does not seem expedient. Instead during the implementation of Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU the planned measure “Energy Audit” should be used increasingly in order to detect company specific potential and to initiate relevant in-house measures.
Findings of the study are published in detail by a final report (German only) which is available online via the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety: