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Biodiesel or biodiesel is a non-toxic, biodegradable type of fuel used to replace conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, from oil used for cooking, and animal fat. From a chemical point of view, biodiesel is a monoalkyl ether. Through a process called esterification, oils and fats react with methyl alcohol and sodium hydroxide, which serves as a catalyst, resulting in the formation of fatty acids, and by-products: glycerol, glycerol bases, soluble potash and soap.
Although the energy value of biodiesel is approximately equal to the energy value of conventional diesel fuel (118,000 Btu (British thermal units) versus 130,500 Btu equivalent to the twisting force and horsepower), biodiesel is a much cleaner fuel and safer for storage and use than conventional diesel fuel. As a result of the experiments carried out by the Colorado Research Institute for Fuel and Engines, it was found that when using a mixture of fuel containing 20% of biodiesel, there is a 14% reduction in exhaust gas, 13% in hydrocarbons and more than 7% in carbon monoxide.
Biodiesel (including B20 blend) is currently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Energy (USA) as an alternative fuel that meets the requirements for protecting air and the environment. In addition, biodiesel has a number of significant advantages.
Not toxic (its toxicity is only 10% of the toxicity of table salt).
It decomposes in vivo (about the same time as sugar).
Practically does not contain sulfur and carcinogenic benzene.
Its source is renewable resources that do not contribute to the accumulation of gases that cause a greenhouse effect, which is typical for oil-based fuels.
The direct advantages obtained with the use of biodiesel in the form of a 20% mixture with conventional diesel fuel include:
- increase in the set number and lubricity, which prolongs the life of the engine;
- significant reduction of harmful emissions (including СО, СО2, SO2, fine particles and volatile organic compounds);
- facilitating the cleaning of injectors, fuel pumps and fuel supply channels.
These advantages are readily available and do not require the cost of engine modifications or changes in infrastructures. In addition, the addition of a catalyst can reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, which gives the B20 flexibility in meeting the requirements for air purity.
Finally, biodiesel makes it possible for owners and managers of fleets using diesel fuel (including rolling stock and cars excluded from it, as well as marine vessels equipped with diesel engines), to observe without much effort the requirements for air purity, without spending significant funds, as in case with other alternative fuels.
The US Department of Agriculture, together with the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, conducted many independent studies comparing various alternative fuels. In particular, fuel costs were compared for the entire life cycle of the car and for a journey of 1 mile. Biodiesel showed the most competitive results among various alternative fuels.
Date of publication 01.01.2007гг