While world population, technology and civilization continues to advance, the pressure on the Earth’s resources is rapidly advancing as well. Humankind has set his environmental footprint deeper and deeper into the planet’s renewable and non-renewable resource. But there’s not turning back to caveman days. Scientists and researchers have not ceased to continually find sources of fuel that will help mankind survive in an environmentally sustainable manner. Using renewable energy has been invented a long time ago.
“Biomass in the form of firewood still represents the main fuel source for many of the world’s people and conventional large-scale hydroelectric generation is a major existing use of a renewable energy source. However, wood fuel is becoming increasingly scarce and given the high capital cost of large hydro projects and, in some cases, major environmental impacts of such schemes, there has been growing interest in smaller scale hydro plants around the world. ” (Elliot, 1997. P. 103) Interest in developing biodiesel as an alternative source for engine power has increased.
Biodiesel’s growing popularity stems from the fact that its source is available in many parts of the country. Its easy availability helps the country be less dependent on countries that supply oil. For biodiesel consumers, the National Biodiesel Board has a complete listing of registered biodiesel suppliers. “Biodiesel, which is made from agricultural products such as recycled cooking oil or soybeans, can be used in its pure form — known as biodiesel B100 — or mixed in any percentage with conventional diesel fuel.
The most typical commercial blend involves 80 percent diesel oil to 20 percent biodiesel — or biodiesel B20. ” (Qualters, 2003) Quality biodiesel is nontoxic. Since most of the raw materials used in biodiesel is made from organic material, it is generally biodegradable as well. The bio fuel emits lesser carcinogens as compared to the regular diesel fuel. In the US alone, an estimated 10 million miles has been driven by biodiesel and biodiesel blends. Clean Cities programs have many success stories on using biodiesel.
“In 2000, biodiesel became the only alternative fuel in the country to have successfully completed the EPA-required Tier I and Tier II health effects testing under the Clean Air Act. These independent tests conclusively demonstrated biodiesel’s significant reduction of virtually all regulated emissions, and showed biodiesel does not pose a threat to human health. ” (Biodiesel Board, 2006) Some skeptics fear using biodiesel fuel and its blends because there is need of engine modifications. Studies and use of biodiesel has proven that the usual engine designs are fully compatible with biodiesel.
Maintenance costs are just as comparable to conventional diesel vehicles. “In older vehicles, high-percentage blends of biodiesel (greater than 20%) can affect fuel hoses and pump seals made from certain elastomers. The effect is lessened with lower percentage blends. Elastomers (found in hoses and gaskets) that are biodiesel-compatible are required for use with B100 and high-percentage biodiesel blends. All diesel fuels require special measures for use in cold temperatures. Biodiesel has a higher cloud point than conventional diesel. ” (EERE, 2006)
Using biodiesel is good for the country because of its political, economic and social benefits. Since it is domestically produced, the country would not have to be forever negotiating with world crude oil prices. Each time the oil rich countries change their prices, domestic consumption is affected. An example of this effect is when the country had to maximize daylight to save fuel consumption. “Brawny diesel engines have helped drive the world economy for more than a century. From an economic and operational perspective, there’s little reason to expect that will change anytime soon.
Diesel’s big draws are power, durability, and an inherent advantage over gasoline: higher energy content and resulting fuel efficiency. ” (Weinhold, 2002. P 1) Economic benefits may not be readily seen in the short term but in the long term, as more people use biodiesel, the cost of biodiesel will be more competititive due to the economies of scale. Advancing technology research on biodiesel blends will be able to further develop biodiesel blends that have even better chemical statistics such as: unburned hydrocarbons – 20% reduction, carbon monoxide – 12 % reduction, and particulate matter – 12 % reduction.
Even lubricity is made better with the use of biodiesel compared to the conventional fuel. Another benefit that can be derived from using this type of alternative fuel is the comparable performance that the consumer gets from it. “Horsepower, torque, acceleration, cruising speed, and fuel economy are similar to those for diesel fuel. The energy content of B100 is 10%-12% lower than conventional diesel. This leads to roughly 2% lower energy content in B20 blends. The cetane number for biodiesel is significantly higher than that of conventional diesel fuel. ” (EERE, 2006)
Where average consumers look into the bottomline of fuels as the amount of power they can deliver, studies has continued to support the quality power that biodiesel can deliver as proven in the table and explanation below. “The values below represent those of energy content of average No. 2 diesel fuel and average biodiesel in the US. 2 While BTU changes of 1-2% can be picked up in lab tests for horsepower, torque, and fuel economy, in practice it is difficult to detect any differences with a 1-2% change in fuel BTU content outside normal variability experienced from day to day operations, even in closely monitored fleets.
” (USEP, 2002) Average Density and Heating Value of Biodiesel and Diesel Fuel Net Heating Value % Difference vs. Fuel Density, g/cm3 Avg. , Btu/gal. No. 2 Diesel Avg. No. 2 Diesel 0. 850 129,500 Biodiesel (B100) 0. 880 , 296 8. 65 % B20 Blend (B20) 0. 856* 127,259* 1. 73 %* B2 Blend (B2) 0. 851* 129,276* 0. 17 %* * Calculated Values from those of No. 2 Diesel and Biodiesel (B100) The discovery of biodiesel was driven by the need to source fuel that is more compatible with the environment.
This need was realized as petroleum prices increased, population demand on energy advanced and environmental degradation on the Earth’s resource was felt on largescale observations such as global warming. There will come a time when man will be able to run their technology on more organic and renewable forms of energy. The benefits that consumers get from biodiesel are essential in helping the country invest on other organic and more renewable and more available forms of energy.
At best, if the country adopts using biodiesel on a larger percent consumption, political disputes may lessen its impact on social relationships between nations of the world. The 911 catastrophe and wars historically recalled have been the consequence of conflict between nations due to need to control scarce resource such as oil. For all its worth, it is imperative that consumers and the country invest on biodiesel because it is good for the consumers health as much as the country’s well being in the short term and the long run. References EERE, 2006. Using Biodiesel in Vehicles. http://www. eere. energy.
gov/afdc/afv/bio_vehicles. html Elliot, David. 1997. Energy, Society, and Environment: Technology for a Sustainable Future. Routledge Qualters, Sheri. 2003. “Area firms start to take a shine to biodiesel as an alternative fuel”. Boston Business Journal – February 10, 2003 http://boston. bizjournals. com/boston/stories/2003/02/10/focus1. html USEP, 2002. “A Comprehensive Analysis of Biodiesel Impacts on Exhaust Emissions”, US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA420-P-02-001, October 2002. Weinhold, Bob. 2002. Fuel for the Long Haul? Diesel in America. Journal; Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 110, 2002