What is Biodiesel? Is it sustainable? And is it cost efficient? These are all very common questions fleet managers, and company owners should be asking when considering the use of biodiesel for their trucks. Renewable and alternative fuel are all the rage these days. Lowering our carbon footprint, and contributing to the longevity of the earth is definitely a great and righteous deed, however the real pursuit of alternative fuels for businesses is to combat the ever-rising prices of fuel and oil. Today we will look into biodiesel and biofuels. We will find out how they are created, their functionality, their accessibility, and help you decide whether biodiesel is the alternative fuel source that your company could best utilize.
Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that is similar in structure and use to standard diesel. Biodiesel is created from animal fat, or vegetable oil through a process called transesterification to separate the glycerin from the base compound. Transesterification leaves behind 2 products, Methyl Esters (which is the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin which is a valuable substance, but is not used in the production of fuel. Biofuel is completely non-toxic and 100% biodegradable. Typically, biodiesel produces 60% less net carbon output than standard diesel. The stigma with biodiesel is that it does not carry the same power or fuel efficiency as standard diesel, but studies have shown that the efficiency loss for using biofuel is less than 5%!
|Unburned hydrocarbons, ppm||3||14||9||3|
|Carbon monoxide, %||0||0.01||0||0|
|Particulates (opacity %)||2.9||1.6||1.1||2.4|
|0-30 mph, sec.||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5|
|0-60 mph, sec.||15||14.9||14.5||14.2|
Table and data are taken from consumerreports.org
While still in its infancy stages, biodiesel is growing to become one of the top alternative fuel options available today. Finding the best alternative fuel source has become the new search for El Dorado, and as such Europe seems to have doubled down on biofuel. Biodiesel is used by millions of car owners in Europe, particularly in Germany. With a market share of nearly 3% of the German diesel fuel market, biodiesel has become the number one alternative fuel – and its use will certainly continue to grow.
The process of creating these alternative fuels is through a chemical reaction that involves the following
Vegetable Oil + alcohol → biodiesel + Glycerin (Glycerol)
We spoke about it briefly in our opening, but the process of converting vegetable oils into biodiesel is called “Transesterification”. This process is a simple process of combining a chemical compound called an “ester” and an alcohol in order to make another ester, and another alcohol. The vegetable oil used in the process can be substituted with animal fats or any organic compound that are rich in Triglycerides, as they for the reactive base of biodiesel
Did you learn anything useful about alternate fuel or biodiesel? If you would like to learn more about other alternative fuel, the fuel industry, or general topics, then considers subscribing for new content! Or learn more about us at www.scfuels.com
-The SC Fuels Team