The Used Cooking Oil (UCO) processing and biodiesel distribution systems are depending on a number of parameters and on the different normative framework in the EU Member States thus their efficiency might be dependent on how well those factors are being considered during the design phase.


RecOil Project has recorded and assessed the existing UCO processing methods and biodiesel distribution practices, in order to evaluate how different solutions are facing the various factors, to identify barriers and future perspectives in UCO production, distribution and exploitation and to draw attention to the most mature, economically and technically sound scenarios. With this scope, RecOil partners:


a) searched the experience and feedback of the industry’s stakeholders in each national biodiesel market, through structured questionnaires and discussion guides, bilateral meetings, workshops and focus groups.

b) examined the European/national legislation, standards, technical norms and outlined the relevant legal / normative environment and national targets.

c) analysed relevant industry studies and research results as well as a number of case studies carried out by local, national or European entities.


Transesterification is the most common method to produce biodiesel. Methanol is the most commonly used alcohol in the process due to its low cost, physical and chemical advantages. Homogeneous base catalysts are the most widely used in industry to produce biodiesel as they accelerate the process and achieve more mild reaction conditions. The reaction can be carried out either discontinuously (batch) or continuously.


The following flowchart indicates the main stages, usually considered in the biodiesel production process.



Figure 1. Indicative flowchart of the biodiesel producing process.


Existing methods to process the UCO-to-biodiesel chain (such as the Homogeneous ‐ catalyzed transesterification, Heterogeneous – catalyzed transesterification, Enzyme ‐ catalyzed transesterification, Supercritical Methanol) are evaluated under different criteria including:


> Technical aspects

> Environmental performance and impacts

> Health & Safety issues

Market Opportunities & Barriers

> Harmonization with EU Directive & Sustainability

> Climate / Geographical Parameters


The findings are compiled into the Guide on UCO processing and biodiesel distribution methods. Table 1 (click here) summarizes the comparison amongst the alternative UCO processes. 




 Figure 2. Indicative flowchart of the biodiesel distribution steps



More information:


 European and National Framework - Technical Norms about UCO processing and biodiesel distribution Biodiesel.

 Stakeholders’ input on existing practices in processing UCO to biodiesel and in biodiesel distribution.

 Guide on UCO processing and biodiesel distribution methods.