ADVANTAGES OF BIODIESEL
Blends of 20% biodiesel with 80% petroleum diesel can be used in unmodified diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used in its pure form but many require certain engine modifications to avoid maintenance and performance problems.
It was stated that about half of the biodiesel industry can use recycled oil or fat, the other half being soybean, or rapeseed oil according to the origin of these feed stocks.
Biodiesel is nontoxic, biodegradable. It reduces the emission of harmful pollutants (mainly particulates) from diesel engines (80% less CO2 emissions, 100% less sulfur dioxide) but emissions of nitrogen oxides (precursor of ozone) are increased.
Biodiesel has a high cetane number (above 100, compared to only 40 for diesel fuel). Cetane number is a measure of a fuel's ignition quality. The high cetane numbers of biodiesel contribute to easy cold starting and low idle noise.
The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating and, furthermore, power output are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.
Biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with a more pleasant smell of popcorn or French fries.
By developing methods to use cheap and low quality lipids as feedstocks, it is hoped that a cheaper biodiesel can be produced, thus competing economically with petroleum resources.
WHAT IS BIODIESEL ?
Biodiesel (or biofuel) is the name for a variety of ester-based fuels (fatty esters) generally defined as the monoalkyl esters made from vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, canola or hemp oil, or sometimes from animal fats through a simple transesterification process. This renewable source is as efficient as petroleum diesel in powering unmodified diesel engine.
The concept of using vegetal oil as an engine fuel dates back to 1895 when Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913) developed the first engine to run on peanut oil, as he demonstrated at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Unfortunately, R. Diesel died 1913 before his vision of a vegetable oil powered engine was fully realized.
"The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in the course of time as important as the petroleum and coal tar products of the present time"
Rudolph Diesel, 1912
After R. Diesel death the petroleum industry was rapidly developing and produced a cheap by-product "diesel fuel" powering a modified "diesel-engine". Thus, clean vegetable oil was forgotten as a renewable source of power.
Modern diesels are now designed to run on a less viscous fuel than vegetable oil but, in times of fuel shortages, cars and trucks were successfully run on preheated peanut oil and animal fat. It seems that the upper rate for inclusion of rapeseed oil with diesel fuel is about 25% but crude vegetal oil as a diesel fuel extender induces poorer cold-starting performance compared with diesel fuel or biodiesel made with fatty esters (McDonnel K et al. JAOCS 1999, 76, 539).
Today's diesel engines require a clean-burning, stable fuel operating under a variety of conditions. In the mid 1970s, fuel shortages spurred interest in diversifying fuel resources, and thus biodiesel as fatty esters was developed as an alternative to petroleum diesel. Later, in the 1990s, interest was rising due to the large pollution reduction benefits coming from the use of biodiesel. The use of biodiesel is affected by legislation and regulations in all countries (Knothe G, Inform 2002, 13, 900). On February 9, 2004, the Government of the Philippines directed all of its departments to incorporate one percent by volume coconut biodiesel in diesel fuel for use in government vehicles. The EU Council of Ministers adopted new pan-EU rules for the detaxation of biodiesel and biofuels on October 27, 2003. Large-volume production occurs mainly in Europe, with production there now exceeding 1.4 million tons per year. Western European biodiesel production capacity was estimated at about 2 million metric tons per year largely produced through the transesterification process, about one-half thereof in Germany (440,000 and 350,000 MT in France and Italy, respectively). In the United States, by 1995, 10 percent of all federal vehicles were to be using alternative fuels to set an example for the private automotive and fuel industries. Several studies are now funded to promote the use of blends of biodiesel and heating oil in USA. In USA soybean oil is the principal oil being utilized for biodiesel (about 80,000 tons in 2003). Details may be viewed on-line through the National Biodiesel Board web site.
What is still widely unknown is that it is easy to make biodiesel for diesel engines using vegetable oil or animal fat. Biodiesel is sold commercially in Europe, America and Australia.
On a small scale, vegetable oil is relatively expensive, but used products from the cooking industry is abundant and can easily and cheaply be converted into a biodiesel fuel that will mix in any quantity with conventional diesel. During heating, the amount of polymers in the oil may increase up to 15 wt% and thus may have negative influence on fuel characteristics. Therefore, the amount of polymers in waste oil is a good indicator for biodiesel production (Mittelbach M et al. JAOCS 1999, 76, 545).
The transesterification process involves mixing at room temperature methanol (50% excess) with NaOH (100% excess), then mixing vigorously with vegetable oil and letting the glycerol settle (about 15% of the biodiesel mix). The supernatant is biodiesel and contains a mixture of methylated fatty acids and methanol, the catalyst remaining dissolved in the glycerol fraction. Industrially, the esters are sent to the clean-up or purification process which consists of water washing, vacuum drying, and filtration.
An in situ alkaline transesterification was shown to be efficient in preparing fatty acid esters, the simple and direct process eliminating the expense associated with solvent extraction and oil cleanup (Haas MJ et al., JAOCS 2004, 81, 83).
Transesterification may be processed using methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or butanol, the catalyst being either sodium or potassium hydroxide. It was shown that the methanol/oil molar ratio influences largely the efficiency of the reaction and has important implications for the optimal size of methyl ester plants (Boocock DGB et al. JAOCS 1998, 75, 1167).
It was experienced that 10 l of soybeans produced about 1.9 l of biodiesel. A liter of this fuel contains about 35,000 BTUs.
If fats or solidified oil are used, it will need to heat up to 50Â°C the mixture prior to mixing with methanol and catalyst.
If free fatty acids are present (used cooking oils), special pretreatment technologies are required (see website).
Among lipid-rich materials of low value is soapstock, a co-product of the refining of edible vegetal oils. This mixture is generated at a rate of about 6% of the treated unrefined oil (45 MT per year in USA). An efficient procedure involving acid-catalyzed esterification of soapstock has been described (Haas MJ et al., J Am Oil Chem Soc 2003, 80, 97).
The world biodiesel sources were in 2002 : rapeseed oil (84%), sunflower (13%), soybean oil (1%), palm oil (1%), and others (1%).
Information on making biodiesel may be found in specific websites : http://www.biodiesel.org/ http://www.greenfuels.org/bioindex.html http://www.webconx.com/making_biodiesel.htm http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_make.html
General biodesiel information : http://www.me.iastate.edu/biodiesel/pages/biodiesel1.html
Other resources (discussion groups) : http://www.topica.com/lists/straightcookingoilforfuel/ http://www.egroups.com/group/Biodiesel