Vol 3 No 2 Suppl. 1 (2019)
Special Issue Article

Biodiesel: History of an innovation to keep the world moving

Narayanaganesh Balasubramanian
Montana State University, US
Katherine F Steward
Montana State University, US

Published 2019-11-22


  • Biodiesel,
  • Biofuels,
  • Vegetable oils,
  • Transesterification,
  • Energy policy,
  • Food or Fuel
  • ...More

How to Cite

Balasubramanian, N., & Steward, K. F. (2019). Biodiesel: History of an innovation to keep the world moving. Substantia, 3(2), 57–71. https://doi.org/10.13128/Substantia-281


The history of biodiesel dates back to mid-19th century when transesterification of vegetable oils was discovered. It took another half century for the world to realize its potential as fuel. Through the 20th century, two World wars and other regional turmoil increased the quest for energy security among nations. This chapter presents the history of biodiesels from the perspective of its development from vegetable oils, animal fats. Usage of biodiesel and straight vegetable oil before World war, and how the energy crises sparked the intense development of these fuels around the globe towards the end of 20th century.