The biodiesel production process is based on the transesterification reaction of the oil. The oils are composed primarily of molecules called triglycerides, which are composed of three fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol molecule. Transesterification involves replacing glycerol by a simple alcohol such as methanol or ethanol, so that metal or ethyl fatty acid asters occur.
To achieve the reaction temperatures must achieve between 40 and 60 Celsius, and the presence of a catalyst, which can be caustic soda or potash are required.
The physicochemical characteristics of biodiesel are similar to petroleum diesel. As a result, its use does not require major changes in conventional diesel engines.
Biodiesel can be pumped, stored and handled with the same procedures, infrastructure and equipment used diesel.