Biodiesel is a non-toxic and biodegradable alternative to petroleum diesel which is produced from waste vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease through the process of transesterification.
How biodiesel is made
Biodiesel is created through a chemical process of transesterification where methanol and sodium hydroxide are mixed with oil in order to remove the glycerine from the methyl ester. This process results in two products the methyl ester which is the biodiesel and glycerin which is used in cosmetics, soaps and other products. The range of inputs can be expanded through the use of enzymes to allow for lower purity and lower cost inputs .
What biodiesel is made from
Biodiesel can be made from:
All of these oils and plants are more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. If interested this article explains how Audi have invented an synthetic e-diesel from air and water.
There is three different blends of biodiesel which are:
Usage in cars
Biodiesel is safe for use in all diesel engines and it is possible to switch between biodiesel and petroleum based diesel if needed. Biodiesel can improve the performance of your engine due to its lubricating properties, higher flashpoint and ability to clean your engine among other factors. Biodiesel also reduces black smoke emitted by diesel vehicles.
Environmental impact of biodiesel usage
Biodiesel as many environmental benefits. A life cycle analysis completed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Argonne National Laboratory found that greenhouse gas emissions for 100% biodiesel (B100) could be more than 52% lower than those from petroleum diesel . A study conducted by the CISRO found that biodiesel lowers greenhouse gases by 100%, lowers total hydrocarbon by 96%, lowers carbon monoxide by 45% and lowers particulate matter by 28% in comparison to petroleum diesel . These lower levels of nasties means that we can enjoy cleaner air and less of the greenhouse effect.
In addition biodiesel due to its biodegradable nature is easier to remove from the environment in comparison to petroleum diesel in the event of a spill.
Advantages to using biodiesel
Disadvantages to using biodiesel