Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel that is produced from vegetable oils. Biodiesel is an appealing alternative fuel because it is made from renewable resources, and it is biodegradable, non-toxic and produces lower emissions.
For the chemists among you, the process of making biodiesel is called transesterification. This process gives off two products: methyl esters (biodiesel) and glycerin (used in soap and many other products). Biodiesel is NOT the same thing as vegetable oil; a chemical process must be followed to meet fuel specifications. However there are many people making their own biodiesel from recycled cooking oil.
Any diesel car can run on biodiesel. Most often it is used as an additive to create a blend with traditional diesel gasoline. Blends are indicated by the abbreviation Bxx, where xx is the percentage of biodiesel in the mixture. The most common blend is B20, or 20 percent biodiesel to 80 percent standard diesel. And B100 refers to pure biodiesel.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, B100 fuel produces 48% less carbon monoxide and B20 produces 12% less CO than standard diesel fuel. Biodiesel produces 100% less sulfur dioxide than petroleum based diesel, and sulfur dioxide is the major component of acid rain. Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emmissions by over 15%. Biodiesel reduces exhaust smoke (particulates) by up to 75%, reducing the black smoke typically associated with a diesel engine. Another benefit is that the vegitation used to produce ethanol absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, thus reducing the net emmisions of the diesel fuel.
Biodiesel has become America’s fastest growing alternative fuel according to the Department of Energy. Production tripled in 2005 to 75 million gallons, from 25 million gallons in 2004. The industry is on track to produce 150 million gallons this year.
However, there are currently fewer than 2000 stations in the U.S. that sell biodiesel blends. But the number is growing quickly. Biodiesel can be made at home, but it is a complicated process not for the faint of heart. To learn how to make your own biodiesel, please visit: http://www.diyfuel.com
The price of biodiesel is only slightly higher than standard diesel fuel, ranging from 5 to 15 cents per gallon more.
For more information, please visit: http://www.biodiesel.org
Willie Nelson is a huge proponent of biodiesel and has even started a company that produces and distributes the fuel. For more info on Bio Willie, please visit: http://www.wnbiodiesel.com
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