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Rapeseed is one of the most important oils used for the production of biodiesel. In Europe rapeseed is one of the most common oil used for production of Biodiesel.

Rapeseed is also known as Brassica Napus.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Capparales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. napus
Binomial name - Brassica napus L.

Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as Rape, Oilseed Rape, Rapa, Rapaseed and (one particular variety) Canola, is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). The name is derived through Old English from a term for turnip, rapum (see Brassica napobrassica, which may be considered a variety of Brassica napus). Some botanists include the closely related Brassica campestris within B. napus. (See Triangle of U)

Cultivation and uses

Rapeseed is very widely cultivated throughout the world for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel; leading producers include the European Union, Canada, the United States, Australia, China and India. In India, it is grown on 13% of cropped land. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, rapeseed was the third leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000, after soybean and oil palm, and also the world's second leading source of protein meal, although only one-fifth of the production of the leading soybean meal. World production is growing rapidly, with FAO reporting that 36 million tonnes of rapeseed was produced in the 2003-4 season, and 46 million tonnes in 2004-5. In Europe, rapeseed is primarily cultivated for animal feed (due to its very high lipid and medium protein content [citation needed]), and is a leading option for Europeans to avoid importation of GMO products.

The rapeseed is the valuable, harvested component of the crop. The crop is also grown as a winter-cover crop. It provides good coverage of the soil in winter, and limits nitrogen run-off. The plant is ploughed back in the soil or used as bedding. On some ecological or organic operations, livestock such as sheep or cattle are allowed to graze on the plants.

Processing of rapeseed for oil production provides rapeseed animal meal as a by-product. The by-product is a high-protein animal feed, competitive with soya [citation needed]. The feed is mostly employed for cattle feeding, but also for pigs and chickens (though less valuable for these). The meal has a very low content of the glucosinolates responsible for metabolism disruption in cattle and pigs [citation needed]. Rapeseed "oil cake" is also used as a fertilizer in China, and may be used for ornamentals, such as Bonsai, as well.


Rapeseed oil is used in the manufacture of biodiesel for powering motor vehicles. Biodiesel may be used in pure form in newer engines without engine damage, and is frequently combined with standard diesel in ratios varying from 2% to 20% biodiesel. Formerly, due to the costs of growing, crushing, and refining rapeseed biodiesel, rapeseed derived biodiesel cost more to produce than standard diesel fuel. Rapeseed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, partly because rapeseed produces more oil per unit of land area as compared to other oil sources, such as soy beans.


Worldwide production of rapeseed (including canola) rose to 46.4 million metric tons in 2005, the highest recorded total (source: FAO).
Top Rapeseed Producers - 2005
Countries Million Metric Tonnes
China 13.0
Canada 8.4
India 6.4
Germany 4.7
France 4.4
United Kingdom 1.9
Poland 1.4
Australia 1.1
World Total 46.4
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
Top Rapeseed Producers - 2005
Year Million Metric Tonnes
1965 5.2
1975 8.8
1985 19.2
1995 34.2
2005 46.4
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
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