Biodiesel fuel is gaining more and more importance because of the depletion and uncontrollable prices of fossil fuel resources. The use of vegetable oil and their derivatives as alternatives for diesel fuel is the best answer and as old as Diesel Engine. Chemically biodiesel fuel is the mono alkyl esters of fatty acids derived from renewable feed stocks like vegetable oils and animal fats. Safflower oil contains 75-80% of linoleic acid; the presence of this unsaturated fatty acid is useful in alleviating low temperature properties like pour point, cloud point and cold filter plugging point.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual, usually with many long sharp spines on the leaves. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads and commonly, brilliant yellow, orange or red flowers which bloom in July. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower has a strong taproot which enables it to thrive in dry climates, but the plant is very susceptible to frost injury from stem elongation to maturity.
Safflower, is a member of the family Compositae or Asteraceae, cultivated mainly for its seed, which is used as edible oil and as birdseed.
Traditionally, the crop was grown for its flowers, used for colouring and flavouring foods and making dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available, and in medicines.
In India the crop has traditionally been grown in the ‘rabi’ or winter dry season in mixtures with other ‘rabi’ crops, such as wheat and sorghum. After emergence, the crop maintains a rosette form for some weeks before rapid elongation to mature height. The florets are self-pollinating but seed set can be increased by bees or other insects.