How do we make biodiesel?

When Daka SecAnim picks up dead animals across the country, the fat of the animals is converted into biodiesel. Biodiesel is devided into two categories: 1st and 2nd generation of biodiesel. 1st generation of biodiesel is based on biomass from primary crops (based on plants) to biodiesel. Daka makes 2nd generation of biodiesel based on waste products from food production, primarily form the fat of the animals from livestock production.

1st generation of biodiesel is simply produced by pouring the fat into a tank, where methanol, which the fat can react with, is added. Then glycerin and biodiesel are formed. 2nd generation of biodiesel is produced in almost the same way, but requires additional processes before and after the actual formation of biodiesel.

The importance of Fresh Animals

To understand the challenge Daka has with decayed animals and the extra process it requires in the production of biodiesel, it is beneficial to understand the composition of a molecule of fat. The molecule of fat optimally consists of a glycerol molecule bound together with three molecules of fatty acid. In this composition it is called triglycerides and the more triglycerides the better the fat quality. However, the glycerol molecule can “lose” molecules of fatty acid, when it is disintegrated, and can either turn into diglyceride (linked to two molecules of fatty acid) or monoglyceride (linked to only one molecule of fatty acid). The discarded molecules of fatty acid become free fatty acids. The amount of free fatty acids is the center of the problem.

The formation of free fatty acids begins by reprieve (when an animal decays). A high proportion of free fatty acids in the animal fat induces that we have to process the fat two times – Firstly, we have to use acid to convert the free fatty acids into biodiesel, before the second round, where we can convert the molecules of fat into biodiesel.

A Matter of Capacity

As a farmer, it is impossible to see, how many fatty acids the dead animals have, but it is still important that you try to minimize the development. The sooner you register your animals, the less decay and the less risk of an unnecessarily high proportion of free fatty acids. The Daka ecoMotion facility, which converts fat into biodiesel, is built to handle up to 20 percent free fatty acid. If the fat we receive is decayed to such a degree that the proportion of the free fatty acids (FFA) exceeds 20 percent, it reduces our capacity. If we exceed 30 percent FFA, our facility only has a capacity of 60 percent. When the chemical manufacturing process is over, you finally have a cloudy biodiesel, where a number og microcomponents must be removed before it can live up to the quality and standard of the transport sector. Therefore, the biodiesel is cleaned three times before it is finally distilled

When the decay of submitted animals is high, it not only presents challenges now and here. The freshness is crucial for us to have an optimal production at the biodiesel factory – the process is one thing, but the crucial point is that we cannot make up for lost production again. Our facility is constantly running at maximum capacity. It is therefore not possible to catch up with periodic capacity reductions. It thus reduces the amount of biodiesel, we can pass on to the market in the end. When summer strikes and the heat sets in, the development of decay can become so intense that we can not produce biodiesel from the fat. If this happens, some of the fat can be stored and mixed in later in the season, when there is enough quality fat to mix with, but then the periodic capacity reduction is extended.

A sustainable contribution from agriculture

For Daka to produce enough biodiesel during a year is not only a question of how much biodiesel can be sold, but also how sustainable the total Danish livestock production is. Daka Denmark’s recycling of agricultural residual flows is a direct contribution to the CO2 reduction that agriculture determend to accomplish.

The reduction targets from the government pose major challenges for agriculture, and in order to meet them, it is crucial that we think holistically and use strengths, we already have, fully. We need to reuse and recycle the resources we can – and the freshness of the dead animals that are handed in, determines how effectively it can be done.

We annually produce 55 million liters of 2nd generation biodiesel that can substitute fossil diesel. Our production accounts for about 30 percent of the total marketshare of the biodiesel, we use in Denmark, which generally corresponds to 2 percent of all diesel used in the transport sector. It is a significant contribution, and a contribution we must cherish in the industry.


Farmers Consultant

Lars Jørgen Nielsen

Phone: +45 5156 4092
Mobile: +45 5156 4692