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Vegetable oil initiative for a cleaner environment

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Low-emission alternative energy for transport (ALT)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Unlike biodiesel, which is a fuel processed with methanol through esterification mainly used in transport by low blending (B5), pure vegetable oil (also known as Straight Vegetable Oil - SVO, or Pure Plant Oil - PPO) cannot be readily used in most diesel engines without it undergoing technological changes. The use of SVO promotes the development of sustainable short-bioenergy chains, thus maximising the added value for farmers.


The LIFE VOICE (Vegetable Oil Initiative for a Cleaner Environment) project aimed at promoting rural sustainable development and GHG emission reduction through the development of the Pure Vegetable Oil bioenergy chain. In particular it aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by promoting the use of vegetable oil in decentralised rural energy generation and transportation. Actions included:

  • Demonstrating the technical and economic feasibility of extraction and direct use of vegetable oils (other than rape oil) in adapted technologies, transferring the knowhow from central European to southern European countries and climates.
  • Encouraging the promotion of incentive measures by the local, regional and national authorities of Florence, Tuscany and Italy to stimulate the use of pure vegetable oil for clean transportation and energy generation.
  • Developing proposals for national and regional strategies for the implementation of the EU Biofuel Directive.
  • Disseminating project results and the defining of a strategy for southern European and Mediterranean countries together with the Italian and Portuguese project partners.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Union
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The VOICE project promoted rural sustainable development and GHG emission reduction through the development of the ‘Pure Vegetable Oil’ bioenergy chain. The project demonstrated the suitability of this chain for southern EU countries (in particular, Italy and Portugal) and its potential for transfer to other Mediterranean countries, not only from a technical and environmental point of view but also from a socio-economic perspective.

In order to promote new opportunities in the agricultural sector, the project investigated the possibility of developing short Vegetable Oil (VO) energetic chains. Exploiting such biofuel possibilities is a challenge and an opportunity for local agriculture. In recent years, the abandonment of land has for the most continued in Europe for economic reasons. But farmers can produce a traditional and well-known feedstock (oil seeds), easily transform it into two highly valuable products (vegetable oil and seed cake) in decentralised mills and use the oil to produce electrical/thermal energy (in converted systems or transports), and the seed cake as protein-rich meal animal feed.

The size of the power system needs to be compatible with the available land, and the technologies need to be demonstrated in southern European countries. For these reasons, the project first installed and tested extraction and energy conversion systems on a small scale. The results of the environmental assessment showed that a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions from transports and energy generation can be achieved.

In particular the VOICE project achieved the following quantifiable results:

  • By using vegetable oil instead of diesel fuel as transport fuel, about 15 GJ (1 gigajoule (GJ) = 109 joules = 0.948 million Btu = 239 million calories = 278 kWh) of primary energy can be saved per hectare and year.
  • When rapeseed oil replaces diesel fuel, about 0.9 Mg CO2 equivalents are saved per hectare and year if the cultivation replaces fallow area. (Mg = 1 Megagrams equals 1 metric tonnes).
  • The use of vegetable oil from Camelina sativa as bio-fuel instead of fossil diesel results in greenhouse gas savings of 1.2 Mg per hectare and year.
  • By using sunflower oil from centralised conversion replacing conventional diesel fuel in a tractor about 22 GJ of primary fossil energy can be saved per hectare and year; however, by using sunflower oil from local production as replacement of conventional diesel fuel in a tractor and by using the co-product seed cake for energy production, about 1.4 Mg of greenhouse gases can be saved per hectare and year.
  • By using sunflower oil from local production in a5 kW CHP, about 1.3 Mg CO2 equivalents are saved per hectare and year if compared to fossil fuel oil.

The project also carried out an economic analysis of the whole chain (considering separately the decentralised farm extraction, industrial extraction and use in engines for transport or energy generation), and an analysis of fuel taxation under different options and necessary measures to overcome these barriers. Moreover, the project carried out an environmental analysis of selected options, drew up a possible regional supply chain, and supported the development of a national policy for the promotion of the direct use of vegetable oil that has potential environmental and socio-economic benefits. Finally, the project tackled the technological, agronomical, practical and administrative issues of the chain and promoted the development of new proposals for strategies and policies.

As an end product, the project developed ‘models’ which are technologically, environmentally and economically feasible for EU farmers in the ‘agroenergy’ sector.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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