Table of Contents
Boswinkel, G., J.T.P. Derksen, and F.P. Cuperus. 1996. Economic evaluation of
new oilseed crops for The Netherlands. p. 296-299. In: J. Janick (ed.),
Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
Economic Evaluation of New Oilseed Crops for The Netherlands
Gerard Boswinkel, Johannes T.P. Derksen, and F. Petrus Cuperus
- Table 1
- Fig. 1
Because of the limited variation in oils and fats feed-stocks available for the
production of fatty acids and derivatives for non-food products, there is an
increasing industrial interest in the Netherlands in the development of new
oilseed crops that are optimized for specific applications. The new crops of
interest include those that contain a higher percentage of a desirable fatty
acid or a lower percentage of undesirable fatty acids and those that contain
unique fatty acids. The latter unusual fatty acids could on the one hand
replace raw materials from petrochemical origins with renewable resources, and
on the other hand, expand the existing range of raw materials available and
potentially lead to novel end products. Moreover, consumer products made from
renewable resources may also carry an appealling environment-friendly or
The development of new crops to provide renewable resources to industry is not
only welcomed by oleochemical industries but also very much so by agriculture.
A new or increased demand for agricultural products can be beneficial to
farmers incomes, but could also diversify the existing range of cash crops,
resulting in environmental benefits. In particular the introduction in
agricultural practice of plant species that were not previously exploited as
crops can lead to a broadening of existing narrow crop rotation schedules, thus
reducing the need for pesticides to keep production levels up.
It has been recognized that a major bottleneck in introducing a new plant
species as an agricultural crop is the limited knowledge on the proper handling
and processing of the agricultural products to industrial raw materials and in
the characterization of these raw materials. Although through plant breeding a
large number of plant cultivars can be generated, the industry is not so much
interested in a field of attractive plants per se. What needs to be
added to succesfully introduce a new plant species or cultivar as a novel
renewable resource is the know-how to process the plant products to useful and
economically attractive specialties or commodities.
As part of the mission of the Agrotechnological Research Institute (ATO-DLO) of
Wageningen, The Netherlands to carry out research on increasing the added value
of agricultural products in the postharvest phase we have studied the
processing of novel oilseed crops. This has resulted in knowledge on the
storage and extraction of these new oilseeds, as well as on optimal refining
and oleochemical processing of their oils, including potential pitfalls (see
However, information on the economic aspects of processing these new seed oils
is virtually non-existent. Therefore we assembled cost estimates for the
production of certain oils and compounds from new vegetable oilseed crops. In
particular, we have studied the production costs, starting from the oilseeds,
of crambe oil, methylvernolate, vernolic acid, dimorphecolic acid, and
supercritical CO2-extracted dimorphotheca oil (SCE-DMO). This selection was
based on information received from oleochemical and (fine) chemical industries
on which feedstocks and intermediates would be of value to the industry and, if
produced economically competitive, would find a ready market. A summary of
this desk study is presented below.
It was assumed that the feedstock for the production of oleochemical
intermediates was the cleaned and, if applicable, dehulled oilseed. Therefore
it is important to note that costs associated with growing the oilseed crops,
harvesting the seeds and cleaning the seeds are not included in the cost
estimates given below. For estimating the processing costs of the different
products we made the following assumptions:
A possible flow-sheet for the production of selected oleochemical intermediates
is based on applicable processing unit operation steps as resulting from prior
research at ATO-DLO, is depicted in Fig. 1. On the basis of the possible
processing routes suggested by the flow-sheet, a choice was made on the
preferred processing route to arrive at each oleochemical product under
consideration. In Table 1 this preferred flow-sheet is given as a succession
of unit operation steps as taken from Fig 1. This preferred flow sheet,
tailored to each product, was used as a basis to estimate the production costs
of the different oils and derivatives in relation to the processed amount of
seeds per day. Higher capacities were not considered to be relevant for SCE
DMO. Note that our calculation is limited to processing costs. Costs for
facilities have not been incorporated. Our calculations show clearly for all
products that increasing the production capacity leads to a decrease in costs
per kg of product.
- Three capacities of seed: 10, 60, and 400 t a day. These capacities are at the
low end of the production scale, a scale that can be anticipated to be the most
relevant during the introduction stage of new agrochemical raw materials, but
which provide an indication of the economy of scale.
One year contains effectively 300 operating days, therefore 65 days per year of
production capacity "down time" have been taken into account.
Prices were set at US$ 0.07/kWh for electricity, $15.00/t for steam,
$0.74/m3 for tap water, 0.15/m3 for natural gas, and
0.35/kg for hexane.
Where solvent extraction of oilseeds was relevant, the hexane loss during the
extraction process was estimated at 3 kg/t cake.
- The selection of the optimal unit operations for processing of the new crops
and seed oils as well as the efficiency of these operations are based on
experimental studies performed by the ATO-DLO on new oilseed processing over
the past several years.
- Costs associated with the purchase of new land and housing to establish a
processing plant was not taken into account, since these costs can vary
tremendously with location. Moreover, for small scale processing it was
assumed that such a plant would find a place in an existing facility, in
conjunction with the processing of conventional oilseeds rather than as a stand
alone operation. Therefore these cost would be associated only in part with
the new oilseed processing facility.
These data should be put in perspective. In Germany the production costs for
rapeseed methylester ("biodiesel") are calculated to be US$ 0.25/kg, which is
about half that of the US$ 0.47/kg calculated for methylvernolate. However, it
should be taken into account that distillation is necessry for the production
of pure methylvernolate and this additional process step is largely responsible
to the higher costs.
The results also show clearly that the production costs for SCE DMO are almost
6 times higher than the production costs for oil produced by expelling.
However the quality of SCE DMO is much higher (Muuse et al. 1994). The
production costs for SCE DMO can be decreased by increasing the maximum
solubility of the oil in the supercritical CO2.
It is expected that new oilseed crops can be processed at cost levels that are
not much different from those for conventional oilseed crops. However,
agronomic factors still have a large impact on the raw material, (oilseed
costs), and therefore on final product costs.
- Derksen, J.T.P., G. Boswinkel, and W.M.J. Van Gelder. 1991. Lipase-catalyzed
hydrolysis of triglycerides from new oil crops for oleochemical industries. p.
377-380. In: L. Alberghina, R.D. Schmid, and R. Verger (eds.), GBF Monograph
16: Lipases, structure, mechanism and genetic engineering. VCH Publishers, New
- Derksen, J.T.P., A.-M. Krosse, and F.P. Cuperus. 1993. Lipase-catalyzed
production of functionalized fatty acids from Dimorphotheca pluvialis
seed oil. Med. Fac. Landbouww. Univ. Gent, 57/4a, p. 1741-1747.
- Derksen, J.T.P., B.G. Muuse, F.P. Cuperus, and W.M.J. Van Gelder. 1993. New
seed oils for oleochemical industry: Evaluation and enzyme-bioreactor mediated
processing. Ind. Crops Prod. 1:133-139
- Derksen, J.T.P., B.G. Muuse, and F.P. Cuperus. 1993. Processing of novel
oilseeds and seed oils. p. 253-281. In: D.L. Murphy (ed.), Designer oilseed
crops. VCH Publ., Weinheim, Germany.
- Hayes, D.G., R. Kleiman, D. Weisleder, R.O. Adlof, F.P. Cuperus, and J.T.P.
Derksen. 1995. Occurence of estolides in processed Dimorphotheca
pluvialis seed oil. Ind. Crops Prod. 4:295-301.
- Muuse, B.G., F.P. Cuperus, and J.T.P. Derksen. 1992. Composition and properties
of oils from new oilseed crops. Ind. Crops Prod. 1:57-65.
- Muuse, B.G., F.P. Cuperus, and J.T.P. Derksen. 1994. Extraction and
characterization of Dimorphotheca pluvialis seed oil. J. Am. Oil Chem.
- Van Gelder, W.M.J., F.P. Cuperus, J.T.P. Derksen, B.G. Muuse, and J.E.G. Van
Dam. 1993. Characterization and processing research for increased industrial
applicability of new and traditional crops: A European perspective. p. 38-45.
In: J. Janick and J. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
Table 1. Flow-sheet and production costs for products derived from new
||Production costs (US$/kg) per day|
|Crop ||Preferred flow-sheet (Fig.1) ||Product ||10 t seed ||60 t seed ||400 t seed|
|Crambe ||1->B+C->D ||Refined oil ||0.18 ||0.12 ||0.07|
|Euphorbia ||1->B+C->2a->F ||Methylvernolate ||0.96 ||0.67 ||0.47|
| ||1->B+C->2b->G ||Vernolic acid ||0.33 ||0.24 ||0.16|
|Dimorphotheca ||1->A ||Refined oil ||3.75 ||-.- ||-.-|
| ||1->B->D->2b->H ||Dimorphecolic acid ||0.63 ||0.44 ||0.24|
Fig. 1. Flow-sheet showing possible production routes for making
vegetable oils or fatty acids derivatives.
Last update August 19, 1997