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Biodiesel as an Alternative Fuel Essay

As time goes on, humans are discovering new ways to improve their means of living. Whether the upgrade affects us financially, socially, or if it helps the Earth, or better health and education, things are changing. Multiple enhancements in fueling one’s car have risen. Gas has become pricey, and the controversial argument that oil will one day perish are factors that have led people to find other alternatives. Biodiesel is an efficient alternative fuel, for the reason that biodiesel is a safe, eco-friendly, and affordable option.

Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel. It is renewable and generated from a variety of vegetable oils and animal fats, not raw vegetable oil. Raw vegetable oil cannot be utilized because it has not undergone the process of transesterification. Transesterification is a process in which oils and fats are obtained organically and are combined with alcohol with the help of a Catalyst to form esters. Biodiesel can be used either in its pure form of 100% biodiesel, or can mix with petroleum as a biodiesel blend (ex: B20, 20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel).

Biodiesel began in the 1890s with Rudolph Diesel. Diesel thought early diesel engines could run on pure vegetable oils and believed there would be a grand benefit to those living in poor areas where there was no petroleum. The modern biodiesel that is derived from the transesterification process did not surface until the 1930s in Belgium. But today’s biodiesel really began in Europe in the late 1980s. The early diesel engines ran on many substances, until vegetable oil seemed to be an efficient alternative.

That is when Rudolph Diesel got to work and researched vegetable oil, concluding farmers could make their own fuel. However, Diesel died a short while after and petroleum became found in many forms. There was abundance of petroleum and in low cost, so the diesel engine was changed to match diesel petroleum fuel. The petroleum diesel spread quickly and biodiesel was ignored. Yet, the biodiesel industry kicked off after the transesterification process was launched and became a preferred method as an alternative fuel.

All good things are flawed, and biodiesel does include some disadvantages. The production of biodiesel can result in more land use. If many of us switch to using biodiesel, there would be much land devoted to our biodiesel fuel needs. Biodiesel transportation and storage can be a hassle. Since biodiesel does not flow well during winter, storage can become an issue. Also, biodiesel cannot travel in pipelines. A truck has to transport it, resulting in higher cost. Biodiesel becomes a gel in cold weather and does not flow; therefore one can experience driving difficulties in the winter time. The diesel creates wax crystal which can clog filters and fuel lines in your car’s fuel system.

Even with its disadvantages, biodiesel has not become a popular alternative fuel for nothing. It has many advantages that persuade people to make the switch. Biodiesel is easy to use, and any vehicle can be converted into a diesel engine car. Also, because biodiesel can be blended with petroleum diesel, one could switch from biodiesel to petroleum whenever wanted, without having to make any changes. Biodiesel pumps at gas stations across the country are growing daily. Pure, 100% biodiesel will have about 5%-10% less energy than petroleum diesel. Usually people notice very little change in their mileage or performance. When using a biodiesel blend, the numbers change. Using B20, there is less than 2% change in energy and users notice no change in mileage or performance.

Using biodiesel is an advantage that is greatly helpful to the environment. Biodiesel is nontoxic, causing less damage than petroleum diesel if it is spilled or somehow released to the environment. It is also safer than petroleum diesel because it is less able to explode or catch on fire. The combustion temperature for biodiesel is higher than 150°C, and about 52°C for petroleum diesel. Biodiesel is safe to handle, store, and transport. B100 use reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 75% compared with petroleum diesel. Using B20 reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15%. Also, in both soil and water, biodiesel degraded at a rate 4 times faster than petroleum diesel.

Because of its clean nontoxic emissions, easy use, and many other benefits, biodiesel is becoming one of the fastest growing alternative fuels in the world. Due to its expense, biodiesel is cost competitive with petroleum diesel. Millions of users have switched to using biodiesel and are enjoying its benefits. If we create biodiesel in a reasonable manner, it can help the world with the topic of petroleum supply. It’s clean, renewable, and cost effective fuel will provide us with economic and environmental advantages for the future.

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