Chapter 9: Perspectives on Sunflower as an Energy Crop
Published:16 Dec 2010
Sunflower is one of the leading oilseed crops cultivated for the production of oil for human consumption, which is also considered an important crop for biodiesel production. During the period 2003-2007, the average annual world production of sunflower seed was about 28.5 million t from a cultivated area of approximately 22.6 million ha . Sunflower oil accounts for only 5% of global biodiesel production despite it's potential to meet current biodiesel standards. Sunflower high oleic hybrids are suitable for biodiesel production due to the higher oxidative stability of the oil regardless of the cultivation conditions. In contrast, sunflower oil composition from traditional genotypes may be highly affected by the environment, giving the best performance in warmer regions.
Besides biodiesel production, anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis are considered with respect to sunflower characteristics in this review.
Whatever the energy conversion process involved, the general purpose should be to significantly enhance the energy yield and the overall efficiency of the process itself. Energy is required to grow crops and convert biomass into biofuel; energy balance is the approach to determine whether alternative fuels provide benefits over the fossil fuels they should displace in term of energy demand and gains. Data on sunflower energy balance related to cultivation and transformation are thus provided. Finally, strategic perspectives concerning sunflower energy exploitation are outlined.