Biodiesel Fuel, Plants, and Processors
welcome to planetbiodiesel.com! This Web site is dedicated to giving
you the best information out there about an exciting new field of energy
development: biodiesel. You see normal petroleum based diesel, or petrodiesel
as it’s known in the industry, is a nonrenewable resource. This
makes it unsuitable for a long term solution to our energy needs. Here
at planet biodiesel we aim to be part of the solution to the problem
of foreign energy dependency, and we believe that the solution lies
within the vegetable oil we all take for granted.
Petrodiesel is created from crude oil in much the same refinement process
as heating oil is made. It was traditionally high in sulfur content,
though the refinement regulations have phased high sulfur diesel off
the markets in the past decade. However the sticking point is that petrodiesel
is made from fossil fuels, which makes it a non-renewable resource.
History is littered with resources that we believed to be renewable
that turned out not to be. One of the driving factors of research is
the pursuit of new forms of energy. You see, at one time wood was considered
a renewable resource, after all you can grow new trees to replace the
ones that you cut down. The problem lay in the fact that we used the
trees faster than we could replant them, leading to deforestation. So
what did we do? We turned to whales. Big whales make more little whales,
renewable, right? Well again, we used up whales faster than they could
make new ones, leading to extinctions and placing many of them on the
endangered species list.
Then for some reason we took a left turn away from living things and
started using coal and oil as fuel sources. Since we got them from the
ground, we’d have lots of them right? Well here we were actually
worse off than we were with the whales and trees, because coal and oil
won’t replace themselves. Here is where biodiesel can enter the
You see, unlike whales and trees, it takes a crop of soy or corn less
than a year to grow, in some climates you can get three harvests from
a single season. This means that land that is already dedicated to farming
can be used instead to satiate our currently voracious appetite for
fossil fuels. Right now there are a variety of new avenues being opened
in possible food stocks that could be used.
For instance, jatropha, a nut that is indigenous to central America
yields a much higher concentration of oil than soy or corn can. If it
can be successfully domesticated, orchards growing jatropha could provide
biodiesel at ten times the rate per hectare that we’re currently
getting from our corn.
Even more exotic, and yet more promising than jatropha are the possibilities
offered by algae. These microorganisms actually produce 60% of their
total mass in oils. This is a huge increase in output over any other
form of oil production. If we can figure out how to cost effectively
harness the potential of algae, a huge amount of energy is just waiting
to be tapped.
Why does vegetable oil keep coming up? Well biodiesel is created via
a chemical reaction between vegetable oil and methanol, a type of alcohol.
After the reaction, the vegetable oil takes on a consistency that is
more fluid than the oil it started out as. It still tends to cloud at
higher temperatures than petroldiesel, but there are engineering solutions
to that particular problem already in effect.
You can do many things to save the earth. Alternative fuel, solar panels, and wind turbine are just the beginning. To learn more, check out Solarhome.org and Homewind.net