Biodiesel is an Unorthodox but Relevant Alternative Fuel

Did you know that fuel could come from an organic source as well as petroleum? While I knew about the benefits and the drawbacks regarding diesel, “biodiesel” was initially an unfamiliar topic. After a little research its starting to win me over. Before I state why heres a little background info.

The term biodiesel, first introduced in 1992, describes a low-emission fuel gleaned from restaurant grease and/or the oil of crops such as soybeans. It is produced by blending lye, an alcohol such as ethanol, and an oil.

While the fastest-growing alternative fuel in the United States, according to the National Biodiesel Board, its not particularly new. Europeans have been using it for over 15 years in their fleet, farm and regular vehicles. In fact, when the diesel engine was first invented in the early 1900s it was intended to be powered by biofuel, peanut oil.

Why all the excitement over recycled restaurant grease? Primarily because of its interesting advantages when compared to petroleum diesel and other alternative fuels.

Its main incentive is that its MUCH cleaner than regular diesel, the fuel of choice for buses, trains and large transport vehicles. Its dominance in the heavy vehicle market is due to enhanced engine durability and the capacity to withstand extensive, continuous use compared to gasoline and natural gas engines. But diesel has high levels of sooty particulates (visualize the black smoke coming out of buses), nitrous oxides (source of the brown haze that covers valleys on windless summer days), sulphates (think acid rain), polycyclic aromatics and unburned hydrocarbons (just know theyre bad for you).

Consider the following advantages and challenges to biodiesel:

Advantages

Disadvantages and Challenges