Brassica carinata as an alternative oil crop for the production of biodiesel in Italy: engine performance and regulated and unregulated exhaust emissions

Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Nov 1;36(21):4656-62. doi: 10.1021/es011078y.


A comparison of the performance of Brassica carinata oil-derived biodiesel with a commercial rapeseed oil-derived biodiesel and petroleum diesel fuel is discussed as regards engine performance and regulated and unregulated exhaust emissions. B. carinata is an oil crop that can be cultivated in coastal areas of central-southern Italy, where it is more difficult to achieve the productivity potentials of Brassica napus (by far the most common rapeseed cultivated in continental Europe). Experimental tests were carried out on a turbocharged direct injection passenger car diesel engine fueled with 100% biodiesel. The unregulated exhaust emissions were characterized by determining the SOOT and soluble organic fraction content in the particulate matter, together with analysis of the content and speciation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which are potentially carcinogenic, and of carbonyl compounds (aldehydes, ketones) that act as ozone precursors. B. carinata and commercial biodiesel behaved similarly as far as engine performance and regulated and unregulated emissions were concerned. When compared with petroleum diesel fuel, the engine test bench analysis did not show any appreciable variation of output engine torque values, while there was a significant difference in specific fuel consumption data at the lowest loads for the biofuels and petroleum diesel fuel. The biofuels were observed to produce higher levels of NOx concentrations and lower levels of PM with respect to the diesel fuel. The engine heat release analysis conducted shows that there is a potential for increased thermal NOx generation when firing biodiesel with no prior modification to the injection timing. It seems that, for both the biofuels, this behavior is caused by an advanced combustion evolution, which is particularly apparent at the higher loads. When compared with petroleum diesel fuel, biodiesel emissions contain less SOOT, and a greater fraction of the particulate was soluble. The analysis and speciation of the soluble organic fraction of biodiesel particulate suggest that the carcinogenic potential of the biodiesel emissions is probably lower than that of petroleum diesel. Its better adaptivity and productivity in clay and sandy-type soils and in semiarid temperate climate and the fact that the performance of its derived biodiesel is quite similar to commercial biodiesel make B. carinata a promising oil crop that could offer the possibility of exploiting the Mediterranean marginal areas for energetic purposes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Bioelectric Energy Sources*
  • Brassica*
  • Italy
  • Particle Size
  • Petroleum
  • Plant Oils*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Petroleum
  • Plant Oils
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Vehicle Emissions