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The Fuel of the Future: Biodiesel

May 8, 2008
Biodiesel: The Fuel of the Future

Biodiesel is considered the fuel of the future because it helps lessen global warming. Biodiesel is produced from domestic, renewable resources like vegetable oils and animal fats. It can be used alone or blended with petroleum.

Scientific research shows that biodiesel reduces net carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel. In some countries, it is also cheaper than diesel.

Biodiesel manufacturing facilities make the fuel through a process called transesterification. In the transesterification process, the fat is purified. It then reacts with alcohol through catalysts such as potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. They are then transformed into glycerol and esters.

Biodiesel is what remains after the transisterification process. The fuel be derived from the plant oils of palm, sunflower, peanut, soybean or canola.

Most diesel-engine cars can use biodiesel. Car manufacturers have lists of car models that can run on pure biodiesel. The fuel also acts as a solvent or cleaner. It loosens deposits that could clog the engine. Because of this, it lubricates the engine, so it runs smoother. The engine actually lasts longer because the fuel leaves few or no deposits at all.

Biodiesel is a biodegradable and renewable fuel. It helps fight global warming because it has a closed carbon cycle. Biodiesel itself is made from carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. When the carbon dioxide from the fuel is released into the atmosphere, it is recycled by plants. The oils of the plants are then later processed again into fuel.

However, biodiesel does have a few drawbacks. It has a tendency to produce more nitrogen oxide emissions than diesel. These substances contribute to the formation of smog. Another disadvantage is its availability. Despite these problems, biodiesel is still the fuel of choice for environmentalists and people who just want to help fight global warming.
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