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Biodiesel or biodiesel is a non-toxic, decomposable fuel that is used to replace conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, from cooking oil, and animal fat. From a chemical point of view, biodiesel is a monoalkyl ether. Using 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: glycerin, 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 BTUs (British thermal units) versus 130500 BTUs in terms of the equivalent torque and horsepower), biodiesel is much cleaner fuel and safer when stored and used than conventional diesel fuel. As a result of experiments conducted by the Colorado Research Institute for fuel and engines, it was found that when using a mixture of fuel containing 20% biodiesel, there is a decrease in exhaust gases by 14%, hydrocarbons - by 13% and carbon monoxide - by more than 7%.
Biodiesel (including B20 blend) is currently recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy (USA) as an alternative fuel that meets the requirements for the protection of atmospheric air and the environment. In addition, biodiesel has a number of significant advantages.
Non-toxic (its toxicity is only 10% of the toxicity of table salt).
Decomposes in natural conditions (approximately at 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 the greenhouse effect, which is characteristic of fuel derived from oil.
The direct benefits of using biodiesel as a 20% blend with conventional diesel fuel include:
- an increase in the net number and lubricity, which prolongs the life of the engine;
- significant reductions in emissions (including CO, CO2, SO2, fine particles and volatile organic compounds);
- Facilitate the cleaning of injectors, fuel pumps and fuel supply channels.
These benefits are easily accessible and do not require the cost of engine modifications or changes in infrastructures. In addition, the addition of a catalyst can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, which gives B20 the flexibility to comply with the requirements for clean air.
Finally, biodiesel enables owners and managers of fleets that use diesel fuel (including rolling stock and vehicles excluded from it, and also marine vessels equipped with diesel engines) to comply with special requirements for cleanliness of air without much effort, as in case of other alternative fuels.
The US Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, has conducted many independent studies comparing various alternative fuels. In particular, fuel costs were compared for the entire life cycle of a car and for traveling 1 mile. The most competitive results among various alternative fuels showed biodiesel.
Publication date 01.01.2007