(KERO) You may be wondering what biodiesel fuel actually is. What is the current push for biodiesel fuel? And how can it benefit the environment.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data CenterBiodiesel, a renewable and biodegradable fuel, is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease.
Biodiesel is a substitute for petroleum diesel. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, biodiesel can be used as a vehicle fuel and improves air quality.
The National Biodiesel BoardIt is described as: “Made using an increasing variety of resources such as reclaimed cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats. Biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engine without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically manufactured, commercially accessible advanced biofuel.
The technical definition for biodiesel can be found here:
- Biodiesel, n – a fuel comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long-chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, designated B100, and meeting the requirements of ASTM D 6751.
- Biodiesel Blend, n – a blend of biodiesel fuel meeting ASTM D 6751 with petroleum-based diesel fuel, designated BXX, where XX represents the volume percentage of biodiesel fuel in the blend.
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFCDC), biodiesel can reduce carbon emissions as the carbon dioxide released by biodiesel gets absorbed from soybeans and other feedstocks used in the production of the fuel.
Biodiesel is a good choice to reduce life cycle emissions. The carbon dioxide released during biodiesel burning is offset by the carbon dioxide that is absorbed from the growth of soybeans or other feedstocks. Argonne National Lab performed a life cycle analysis that found that B100 has a 74% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to petroleum diesel. California Air Resources Board (CARB). reported similar values(PDF)For biodiesel’s life cycle analysis, there are many sources.
The National Biodiesel Board points outThat’s biodiesel
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 86 percent over the lifecycle
- Reduces particulate matter by 47%, reduces smog and makes our air cleaner to breathe.
- Reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 67%
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, biodiesel is far more harmful than petroleum diesel if it is sprayed or released into the atmosphere. Because it is less combustible, it is safer than petroleum diesel.
Because it is less volatile, it is safer that petroleum diesel. Biodiesel’s flashpoint is higher than 130C compared to petroleum diesel’s 52C. Biodiesel is safe for storage, transport, and handling.
Biodiesel has health benefits
A study also found that biodiesel can have health benefits. The Clean Fuels Alliance America studied the issue.The results showed that biodiesel has health benefits for the body, including a lower risk of cancer, fewer deaths prematurely, and fewer asthma attacks. It is important to save lives by reducing health impacts from transportation and home heating fuels. Biodiesel is readily available today to help achieve this goal.
“We have known for a while that biodiesel is a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel,” Clean Fuels Alliance America CEO Donnell Rehagen explained. “This study quantifies health benefits and shows how renewable fuels such as biodiesel or renewable diesel can bring positive change to peoples’ lives, the nation, and the economy.”
According to the study switching to biodiesel for heating and transport would prevent 340 premature deaths per year and reduce sick days by 46,000
It could also reduce cancer risks by up to 45% if it were used in heavy-duty trucks.
Biodiesel could also be used to reduce asthma attacks and other lung problems.
Biodiesel: The disadvantages
Biodiesel is not a perfect fuel source. Biodiesel, like all other sources, has its limitations.
Cold is the one disadvantage. According to the Website Farm EnergyThis was created by University Extensions experts from the United States. Biodiesel’s freezing point depends on the oil or fat it is made from.
Another issue is water usage. Website How Stuff Works“If not managed well, the water demands of some biofuel-producing plants could cause unsustainable pressure on local water resources.”
It also mentions that biofuel production could have an impact on food production and affordability.
“The simple supply and demand economics of biofuels — increased corn demand, for instance, and corn becomes more costly — can pose a threat for some regions’ food security or access to affordable nutritious foods for their population.”
As more companies look for biofuels to fuel their operations, this could lead to deforestation in areas where there is a higher demand for land to plant crops.
A higher demand for fertilizer will cause the cost of fertilizer for farmers that produce food crops to rise, which could lead increase in food costs.
Other negative factors include the high cost of producing biofuels, variations between biofuel quality, and technical challenges associated with running vehicles on biofuels.
How Do Diesel Vehicles Work Using Biodiesel?