Biodiesel is an environmentally-friendly and low polluting fuel derived from waste or fresh vegetable oils (triglycerides) or animal oils (which is a renewable source of energy). It can be utilized alone or along with petroleum diesel fuel. However, by itself it does not contain any petroleum products. Biodiesel can be utilized in internal combustion, conventionally using diesel without many alterations in the engine design. The fuel is free from sulphur and harmful aromatic substances, and hence is comparable less toxic.
It is 75% cleaner than conventional diesel in terms of pollutants produced during burning. It contains mono-akyl esters of long-chain fatty acids that are usually obtained from animal fats or vegetable oils. It has to meet the criteria laid down by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM). One of the common formulas containing biodiesel is B20, which contains 20 percent biodiesel and the remaining 80 percent petroleum products. This mixture has proven to be environmentally friendly and has also significantly reduced the costs of fuel in terms of petroleum imports.
It meets the criteria of the Energy Policy Act (EPA), 1992. B20 may cause a slight reduction in power, torque and fuel economy, but this does not cause an apparent problem. In the US, biodiesel utilized as a fuel or a fuel additive, has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the standards set by the California Air Resources Agency (CARB). Even 100% biodiesel (B100) has been recognized an alternative and environmentally friendly fuel by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Transportation in the US.
Before the customer blends biodiesel with regular diesel, it should be ensured that the specifications laid down by the ASTM are met. These specifications make sure that the customer will not develop operational problems. The operations aspects and air quality will improve only if the specifications of the ASTM are being met (suggesting quality fuel). Biodiesel or its products should only be purchased from accredited manufacturers and certified suppliers. A biodiesel quality control program known as ‘BQ-9000’ has been initiated by the ASTM, which has laid down certain quality standards under ASTM-D-6751.
The various procedures under the quality program include storage, sampling, testing, retailing, transportation, marketing, etc. It also ensures that improvements are made in the BQ-9000 system. In the US, legislation has been set up to improve the quality of air known as the ‘Clean Air Act’. So far, biodiesel has been the only alternative fuel that has met the health specifications laid down under this act. Biodiesel reduces the amount of un-burnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and emitted particles, when compared to burning petroleum diesel alone.
Biodiesel helps to reduce acid rain and the other ill-effects of vehicular pollution by reducing the amount of sulphur oxide emission and sulphates. The un-burnt hydrocarbons can have a disastrous effect on the ozone layer. The US imports approximately 11 million barrels of crude petroleum every day. A quarter of this is converted into diesel which is utilized for vehicular, industrial and domestic purposes. If a small quantity of biodiesel is blended with petroleum diesel, the nation can significantly reduce its imports of petroleum.
In 2004, the US used about 36 millions gallons in 2004 of biodiesel, which is expected to increase in future. Biodiesel is prepared by chemically vegetable and animal oils (such as soybean oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, other cooking oils, etc) with short-chain alcohol (such as ethanol and methanol), along with a catalyst. Biodiesel is produced along with glycerin. Other than a reduction in pollution levels, biodiesel also offers a huge range of other advantages. The fuel has a better lubricating property compared to normal pertroleum diesel and hence decreases engine wear and tear.
Even a 1% biodiesel level in regular diesel can help lubricate the engine. This property of biodiesel helps to compensate for the low sulphur levels to be utilized in fuels by the year 2006. Low-sulphur fuels tend to be harsh on the engine, and biodiesel can help compensate for this. Biodiesel significantly lowers the pollutant emission levels. The extents to which the pollutants emitted are reduced depend on the blend levels. B100 reduces carbon dioxide emission by about 78% compared to normal petroleum. On the other hand, B5 lowers CO2 emission by about 3. 8%.
Besides, the levels of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, aromatic substances, particulate matter and other toxic substances are reduced to levels depending on the blend. However, Nitrogen oxides are increased very slightly with biodiesel. B20 produces a 2 to 4 % increase in the levels of nitrogen oxides, whereas B5 produce an increase in nitrogen oxides which cannot be felt. However, very recent studies have shown that biodiesel use do not cause any problem with nitrogen oxide emission when used. Biodiesel of higher blends tend to destroy elastomers and rubber compounds over a long period.
Hence, manufacturers are trying to reduce utilization of these substances in the vehicles. However, B20 and lower blends have no significant effect on elastomers and rubber substances present in the vehicles. Fuel systems that should be compatible with higher range blends need to change over to more compatible rubbers and elastomers. Biodiesel tends to dissolve paints as it is a good solvent. Hence, it is advised that surfaces be wiped whenever biodiesel is suspected to spill over. Biodiesel is a very combustible substance and tends to degrade over time. It produces heat as it degrades.
Hence, necessary precautions need to be taken whenever it is stored. Biodiesel when purchased should be utilized within 3 months. The fuel should be stored in a clean, cool, dark and dry place, away from sunlight. Usually aluminum, steel, Teflon, fluorinated polyethylene or fluorinated polypropylene can be utilized to store biodiesel. Biodiesel has a good auto-ignition capability (similar to that of octane). Fuels having lower auto-ignition property tend to be very rough on the engine; produce higher amounts of engine deposits and are very difficult to start especially during winter or at places at higher altitudes.
Biodiesel burns at a lower temperature and this can be less traumatic to the engine. Biodiesel can significantly cope with this problem, raising the cold weather properties. It is often utilized in states having cold climates without any significant problem. Petroleum diesel is known to produce a deposit at the bottom of fuel tanks, lines and delivery units, which slowly increase over time. Even utilizing biodiesel occasionally can help to dissolve these deposits. Thus the need to purchase new filters, servicing of the vehicles and the reduction in the engine life can be reduced by utilizing biodiesel and its blends.
Biodiesel of the types B20 and below can be utilized in all types of engines including those having advanced fuel injections systems. Biodiesel is available in all the states in the US. More and more retailers are becoming aware of the advantages of biodiesel and are stocking the product. When production of biodiesel was initiated, it was slightly costlier than regular diesel. However, in October, 2004, the US President made an effort to lower the tax on biodiesel blends, thus lowering the cost of the product in the market. The EPA legislation also provides a lot of incentives for biodiesel users.
The demand for biodiesel is slowly increasing, as people and manufactures are becoming aware of its beneficial effects. Besides, the Governments tax strategy and the legislations existing have enabled rapid growth of the biodiesel industry. Many car and truck manufacturers are suggesting the Use of B5 and B20 in its vehicles. In the light-vehicle sector, the sales will go up from 3. 2 % in 2004, to 10 % in 2015. The biodiesel industry is almost grown by three times within a year. In 2004, 25 millions gallons of biodiesel was produced, which rose to 75 million gallons by 2005.
It is expected to grow further in 2006. Biodiesel is being known by several trade names and logos which would definitely attract customers. References: Biodiesel. Org (2007). Biodiesel Commonly Asked Questions. Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from Biodiesel. Org Web site: http://www. biodiesel. org/pdf_files/fuelfactsheets/CommonlyAsked. PDF Biodiesel. Org (2007). Biodiesel Usage Checklist. Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from Biodiesel. Org Web site: http://www. biodiesel. org/pdf_files/fuelfactsheets/bdusage. PDF BQ9000 (2007). BQ-9000 Quality Management Program.
Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from BQ9000 Web site: http://www. bq-9000. org/ Journey to Forever (1999). Biodiesel. Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from Journey to Forever Web site: http://journeytoforever. org/biodiesel. html National Biodiesel Board (2007). Biodiesel Backgrounder. Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from Biodiesel. Org Web site: http://www. biodiesel. org/pdf_files/fuelfactsheets/backgrounder. PDF US Department of Energy (2005). Clean Cities. Retrieved January, 21, 2007, from USDOE Web site: http://www. eere. energy. gov/cleancities/blends/pdfs/37136. pdf