Biodiesel Fuel, Plants, and Processors

BiodieselGreetings, welcome to! 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 conversation.

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.


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