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Biodiesel and Its Impact on the Environment

Aug 17, 2007
Biodiesel has been getting its share of interest among people in the search for alternative fuels. The cost of oils has been steadily going up in the worldwide market and many think it is time to find alternative sources to tone down in some way the rising costs of using gas and other petroleum-derived fuels. One of the alternatives found to have promise is the production of biodiesel.

Biodiesel refers to a type of processed fuel that can be derived from biological sources. It can be readily used in diesel engine vehicles. This distinguishes it from the use of straight vegetable oils (SVO) or waste vegetable oils (WVO) as the chosen alternative which requires vehicles to have modified diesel engines installed in order to make use of such fuels.

What makes biodiesel also an ideal alternative is that it is biodegradable and non-toxic. Biodiesel also provides considerably fewer combustion emissions when compared to petroleum-based diesel fuel.

Since biodiesel can readily be used in current diesel engines without having to modify them, it has the potential to supplement the use of petroleum-based fuels as a primary energy source to fill up the need of the world's transportation sector. And not only that, biodiesel holds the promise of being used as a cheaper alternative heating fuel for domestic and commercial boilers.

Biodiesel can be used in its pure form or it may also be blended with petroleum diesel. It provides a number of advantages and benefits with its use. One of biodiesel's better properties is its high lubricity index. Higher than that of pure petrodiesel, this excellent lubricating property of biodiesel can greatly contribute to lengthening the life of an engine's fuel injector.

Biodiesel is also a better solvent than conventional diesel and has been shown to break down residue deposits in fuel lines that have previously been using conventional diesel products. That's why fuel filters becoming clogged with residue particles as the biodiesel does its work of cleaning the engine has become so common. A change of filter after running 600-800 miles on biodiesel is recommended to solve this problem.

There are subsequent environmental benefits when choosing to use biodiesel over conventional petroleum based diesel. Biodiesel use results in a significantly reduced emission of carbon monoxide. Biodiesel also contains fewer hydrocarbons and can reduce tailpipe particle emissions by as much as 20 percent.

Biodiesel also has low sulfur content without compromising its natural viscosity and lubricating properties which is usually the case when using ultra-low sulfur petrodiesel varieties. It's also biodegradable and non-toxic, which makes it a more environmentally friendly alternative.

It is being suggested by many biodiesel advocates that excess or waste vegetable oil can be the best source of oil to produce this alternative fuel. But the current available supply is unfortunately lesser than the amount of petroleum-based fuel that is burned for transportation and home heating all over the world. Gallons upon gallons of waste vegetable oil are produced by US restaurants every day.

But this may not be enough to satisfy the need for more and more fuel. Producing biodiesel from animal fats may not be feasible enough to replace petrodiesel just yet because of its limited supply. However, research is underway to find ways and to develop systems which could make biodiesel more available and help answer the growing needs of alternative fuel.
About the Author
Matthew runs a site dedicated to the latest news and developments in biodiesel, here you'll find more info about biodiesel fuel .
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