Heat your home with biodiesel:
heating your home with dirty fossil fuels in an oil furnace? This winter, add some biodiesel for a cleaner, greener burn - energy & environment
Mother Earth News, Dec, 2003 by Greg Pahl
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Although it has been promote mostly as a fuel for diesel powered vehicles, biodiesel is perfectly suited as an additive or replacement fuel in a standard oil-fired furnace or boiler.
When used as a heating fuel, biodiesel is sometimes referred to as "biofuel" or "bioheat." Made from new and used vegetable oils or animal fats, this fuel also has the advantage of being biodegradable, nontoxic and renewable: While fossil fuels took millions of years to produce, fuel stocks for biodiesel can be created in just a few months, and the plants grown to make biodiesel naturally balance the carbon dioxide emissions created when the fuel is combusted. What's more, the resulting fuel is far less polluting than its petroleum-based alternative.
A HOT IDEA
The idea of using vegetable oil as a fuel source isn't a new one: In 1900, Rudolph Diesel, a German engineer for whom the diesel engine is named, used peanut oil to power one of his engines at the World Exposition.
Today, Rudolph Diesel's original idea of using vegetable oils as a fuel source has been revived with the development of biodiesel.
Technically a fatty acid, methyl ester, biodiesel is made by reacting a wood or groin alcohol such as methanol or ethanol, with vegetable oil or animal fats. with the help of a sodium hydroxide (lye) catalyst, the reaction produces two products: biodiesel and glycerine. The process is relatively simple, although the chemicals required are caustic and need to be handled carefully.
After I first heard about this idea at a renewable energy fair in 2001, I decided to try biodiesel in my old oil furnace. That November, shortly after our fuel tank in the basement had been filled with No. 2 fuel oil, I carefully added about 5 gallons of biodiesel to the tank, which resulted in a B2 blend (2 percent biodiesel; 98 percent fuel-oil).
I started the experiment with such a modest amount because, among its many properties, biodiesel also is a solvent. This potent property tends to dissolve the sludge that often coats the insides of old fuel tanks and fuel lines, which can cause a clogged fuel filter or burner head. As the 2001-2002 heating season progressed, I gradually increased the percentage of biodiesel until the furnace was burning a B10 blend.
Despite my initial concerns, the old oil-fired boiler in the basement continued to operate without any problems. Last year, I increased to a B20 blend, which burned with similar results.http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1279/is_201/ai_111269259