Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published in Cornhusker Economics, 6-18-08. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


Given high gasoline prices and the negative environmental effects of burning fossil fuels, there is increased interest in alternative energy sources, including biofuels. Brazil and the United States have been leading the way with ethanol production derived from sugar cane and corn. Recently, there has been increased interest in another biofuel, biodiesel, particularly in Europe (the leading producer). Biodiesel, a non-petroleum-based diesel fuel, can be produced from the transesterification of vegetable oils or animal fats. In the United States, most biodiesel is made from rapeseed (canola) or soybeans. But elsewhere, there are other biodiesel feedstocks such as palm oil and jatropha that have great potential as renewable fuels. This paper takes an in-depth look at the potential of these two crops for the production of biodiesel.