Bio Diesel Shaval
Member of the Southern African Biofuels Association
Specialists in the erection
of biodiesel plants and
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About bio diesel

Traditional 'petro-diesel' is diesel fuel that is generally fossil-oil based. These base materials are drilled from the earth or seabed, and currently represent the single biggest threat to our atmosphere. The emissions produced by petro-diesel cannot be absorbed by plants and instead are caught up in the atmosphere and contribute to what we collectively call 'green house gasses'.

Bio diesel is a diesel fuel that is 100% compatible with almost any diesel engine, but uses natural plant oil as its base. The emissions produced by bio diesel are absorbed by plants and therefore do not contribute to green house gasses.

Bio diesel is cheaper

In South Africa, producing your own bio diesel is significantly cheaper than buying petro-diesel. This makes it an attractive alternative to all industries that rely heavily on diesel fuel like agriculture, transport, shipping, earthmoving, construction and many others.

Farming input costs have sharply risen over the years, while revenue for their produce has been on a steady decline. This decline has been caused by numerous international factors, none of which can be controlled by the farmer himself.

By manufacturing his own bio diesel however, he is able to lessen his single biggest input- diesel. By bringing down his input costs, this makes him less vulnerable to international trends.

This in turn, also protects jobs on the farms, which prevents the influx of jobless people into urban areas and causes problems like the formation of informal settlements.

Bio diesel is of better quality

Bio diesel is recognised as a superior fuel to petro-diesel, which lubricates the engine and prolongs its life. It can be used in its pure 100% form, or in any blend. The most common blends range from 5 to 20%, depending on availability of the bio diesel.

In countries where decisions have been taken to run their public transport vehicles on bio diesel, it has been observed that the maintenance on these vehicles has been considerably less and overall engine life longer.

In the Free State, South Africa farmers were invited to Reitz to see a New Holland tractor running on B100 produced by Shaval BioDiesel. The engine runs quieter and smoother, while the emissions are drastically reduced and smell cleaner!


Once the sunflower seeds are pressed and the oil removed to produce biodiesel, the remaining oil cake is a protein-rich animal feed that can be milled and fed to animals in feed lots, piggeries, dairies or in pastures.

In Europe where biodiesel has been used for many years, their climate is most suited to Rapeseed. Therefore, biodiesel that is produced in Europe is mostly derived from Rapeseed as the dominant feedstock. Sunflowers are South Africa’s most widely grown feedstock. Soya is also grown in the eastern areas, while Cotton seeds and Canola are grown in fairly small quantities and can also be used as feedstock for biodiesel production.

Used vegetable is often looked at for use as the feedstock, but supply is usually sporadic and rarely available in adequate quantities out of the cities. This eliminates used cooking oil for use in sectors like agriculture and mining which are centered out in the rural areas. Used cooking oil contains a high percentage of Free Fatty Acids (FFAs) which need to be neutralized first (distillation processes are often used) which adds cost. Used cooking oil is therefore only a viable option if received at a very low cost or for free. When using used cooking oil, the producer misses out on the by-product of oilcake which is left after extracting the virgin oil from oil seeds. The by-product is a valuable contributor to the overall viability of biodiesel.

On a small to medium-scale, Sunflower is the most viable oilseed to use due to availability and ease of processing. While Soya oilcake has a higher protein value, it has far lower oil content than sunflower. The oil cake from Soya also has to be extruded in a complex baking process. Sunflower has a much higher oil content and the oilcake doesn’t have to go through a special process to make it digestible to animals. The higher oil content also means that less oilseed has to he stored, processed and handled to make the required biodiesel capacity. Therefore Sunflower is the oilseed of choice for small to medium-scale production, while Soya is more viable for large-scale production where capital outlay is very high.

The oilcake that remains after the oil has been extracted with the oil press has extremely quick weight-gaining properties when fed to animals like sheep, goats, pigs and cattle. In dairies, this product also has very good effects on the milk production of cows. This has made biodiesel production a very attractive prospect for feed lots, piggeries and dairies. Not only do they reduce their diesel cost by producing biodiesel, but this valuable by-product is now used in-house which saves a lot of money in feed and maximizes all benefits in a closed loop.

Bio diesel is renewable

While the world's fossil oil deposits are running out, bio diesel, which is derived from oilcrops is totally renewable. As long as oilcrops can be grown, bio diesel can be manufactured.

Bio diesel provides food security

There is a lot of debate around the issue of planting millions of hectares of oil crops to fuel for the biofuels industry, and what effect this will have on food crops.

As usual, there is also a lot of miss-guided information. If one is to get a better understanding of food security, then organisations like Grain SA have a lot to offer and have been playing a vital role in Southern Africa.

Firstly, if the feedstock used is for bio diesel AND human consumption, it is not detracting, but rather adding to food security.

The popular misconception is that oilcrops that are also feedcrops are taking the food away from the poor and putting it into fuel. The true biggest threat to food security is unstable prices. In South Africa, less than a third of the usual maize crop was planted in 2006, because the price dropped to uneconomical levels in 2005. Anyone can agree that this outcome of not planting at all is far more damaging than having the crops used by another industry that will stabilize production, demand and prices.

This is also true for Jatropha Carcus. Many people see this invasive plant as the answer because of its high oil yield. The unfortunate aspect of this plant is that it is poisonous, and is therefore not versatile.

In the case of other popular feedstocks like Sunflower and Soya, the by-product has a tangible use. Further than that, because sunflower oil currently used for cooking oil, this instils confidence in a grower, because he has more than one potential market for his produce, and therefore his risk is less.

The essence is therefore versatility.

Centralized or decentralized production?

Within the biodiesel industry, there are two sectors- centralized large-scale producers and decentralized small to medium-scale producers.

Some large-scale producers plan to make biodiesel to sell to the regular petroleum companies. They then wish to blend this biodiesel into regular petro-diesel for distribution through existing petrol stations.

The benefit of large-scale production is that it creates a bigger market for fuel crops which will create more jobs. In addition, this will also contribute to the reduction of emissions, which is in line with government's commitment to the Kyoto protocol.

The limitation of 'biodiesel for blending' and unfortunate drawback for the end-user though, is that the biodiesel that is used in blended form will result in no cost-saving to the end-user. Low availability of oilseeds ensures that the biodiesel blending ratios will always be very low, and all potential cost benefits will be absorbed by the producer's profit margins and distribution costs.

Therefore, the only way that a diesel user can enjoy a cost benefit, is to produce the biodiesel himself.

Decentralized small to medium-scale producers are making biodiesel mostly to meet their own diesel requirements. By producing biodiesel themselves, there is a significant cost-saving.

In farming, this leads to more oil crops being planted which creates jobs, while also protecting existing jobs. By saving on input costs through biodiesel self-sufficiency, farmers can also afford to keep more staff while undertaking more production. Environmental benefits due to reduced emissions are once-again also realized.

The answer to a holistic biofuels solution is therefore that large-scale and small to medium-scale producers co-exist. In South Africa, the government has already endorsed this strategy with legislation which has created the necessary platform to protect all biodiesel producers.

Biodiesel self-sufficiency increases productive land area

In agriculture, 'marginal lands' exist where a number of factors like the soil condition make it uneconomical to plant crops on certain pieces of land. This means that farmers only plant in the areas where their input costs will be recovered with the yields expected from the respective piece of land.

Marginal lands are pieces of land that are deemed uneconomical to farm.

When farmers produce their own biodiesel, they drastically reduce their single largest input cost- diesel. This reduction means that even lands with lower yields will now be profitable to farm, since the input costs are low enough to counter the lower yield.

Therefore because of biodiesel, farmers can use a lot more available land to grow food and oil crops. This is in line with government's desire to see as much agricultural land productive as possible. This increase in land that is farmed creates jobs and also contributes to food security.

Bio diesel is of strategic importance

Bio diesel can also play a significant role in strategic security for the future. Oil wells and centralised petro-diesel refineries are prime targets for terrorist attacks. These are considered national strategic assets, because if they are neutralised, they will cripple a country's economy and its ability to feed and defend itself.

Large farmlands growing renewable feedstocks, and decentralised bio diesel plants that are spread throughout most of a country, pose an infinitely more difficult target.

By having many self-sufficient bio diesel plants spread throughout a country, the nation is assured that in the event of an attack, it is still able to feed its population- because agriculture will continue and also defend itself.


Sustainable Development
Social Environment Economic
  • Opportunities to facilitate gender equality,
  • Stimulate Socio-economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation,
  • Offers BEE investment opportunities,
  • Improved health for all.
  • RE helps reduce GHG emissions (climate change mitigation),
  • Helps reduce environmental pollution and associated adverse health effects,
  • Provides diversity of supply and thus energy security
  • Job creation,
  • Community & industrial economic dev.
  • Off-sets energy imports (BOP),
  • Contribute to new generation capacity,
  • Helps with DSM

The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has identified biodiesel as a major contributor for job security on the farms. The growing of oilseeds protects existing farm labour while the manufacturing of biodiesel on the farms also protects those local jobs.

Farmers who produce their own biodiesel, do so at a cost far lower than purchasing petro-diesel. Therefore most importantly, when farmers reduce their input costs by producing their own biodiesel, they reduce their risk to sudden drops in produce prices. This economical benefit is most important in ensuring that no jobs are lost on the farms due to factors such as low grain prices due to international conditions that are out of their control.

Farmers who produce their own biodiesel are protecting rural jobs, benefiting our environment, whilst also lessening the countries dependence on imported fossil oil.

The South African government has decided to actively promote this practice, by exempting small biodiesel producers from all fuel tax and road accident levies if they produce up to 300 000 litres of biodiesel per year. Even in cases where more than 300 000 litres is produced per year, the government has offered rebates and incentives for biodiesel. Please feel free to contact Shaval BioDiesel to explain exactly how these rebates and incentives work.

Southern African Biofuels Association

In 2005 the Southern African Biofuels was established in Johannesburg, South Africa to represent the entire Biofuels fraternity. The purpose of the association is largely to assist government as well as companies and individuals to promote a vibrant Biofuels industry in the entire SADC region. The association comprises of a diverse group which covers many sectors including Agriculture, Finance, Government, Companies and individuals who are involved in biodiesel, bioethanol or biogel.

Inaugural meeting at the South African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2005

The Southern African Biofuels Association is at the forefront of developments in the industry and is in a position to supply all its members with relevant up to date knowledge. SABA can also assist government in the drafting of legislation to assist the growth of the industry.

SABA Board of Directors: from left front: Erhard Seiler (CEO), Maureen Garrine (Siyanda), Remi Burdairon (Louis Dreyfus), Randy Chetty (Shaval BioDiesel), Sven Moeller, Andrew Makenete (President), Hannes Otto (Grain SA), Franz Hugo (Evergreen)

Every Shaval BioDiesel client will automatically be included in SABA's membership, to be part of kept up to date with all developments in the industry, legislation and government incentives.

SABA was present at the recent government conference on Renewable Energy involving the Energy Ministers of many African countries.

Shaval BioDiesel member hosting the minister from Namibia Shaval BioDiesel members hosting the minister from Lesotho

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