Efforts to find affordable alternatives to current vehicle fuel choices, biodiesel has suddenly become one of the leading replacements Biodiesel is considered a renewable eco-friendly resource derived from vegetable oil or animal fats. Once the vegetable oil or animal fat is processed, it becomes a combustible material, like the petroleum-based diesel currently used today in many vehicles. In fact, it is used daily around the world, and is already rapidly becoming the main stay of a lot of family budgets, with ever increasing popularity. Biodiesel can and is being produced from rapeseed, soybeans, algae, palm oil, hemp, lard, mustard seed-in fact, any vegetable oil source, and yes, even waste vegetable oil, fish oil and animal fats. In fact, the August 2005 edition of National Geographic reported one biodiesel user who got his waste vegetable oil free from a local potato chip shop and spent eight dollars a month to turn it into biodiesel, which as we know is common practice now in many places. Some of the advantages of biodiesel include: * Biodiesel is an excellent way to use the vegetable oil and animal fats produced today, solving the hugely potential problem of waste products otherwise disposed of badly and the past problems that caused our environment.
* Biodiesel is biodegradable on land or in water, so naturally safer for all animal and plant life. * Biodiesel is nontoxic. * Biodiesel can be safer in accidents because it has a much higher flash point (300° Fahrenheit) than regular diesel or gasoline, and is considered a non-hazardous material. * Biodiesel is a better solvent, so it cleans engines that have been dirtied and stained by long-term use of regular petroleum diesel.
* Biodiesel can be used right now, in any concentration with current petroleum diesel engines, making the transfer from one to the other very easy. However, older petroleum diesel engines may experience a higher degradation of seals and gaskets which can easily be changes for modern plastic alternatives used today. * Biodiesel usage dramatically reduces carbon monoxide emissions and carbon dioxide emissions. * Biodiesel reduces sulphur emissions by 100% (because it does not contain sulphur), which will help contribute to the Kyoto protocol mandate of reducing sulphur emissions. Proponents say it may replace the fossil fuels used today to power vehicles. But it still has a ways to go: * Biodiesel just like regular diesel tends to gel at temperatures that are very low, but this can also be rectified with additives.
* Biodiesel is more expensive to produce by the Gas Companies right now than other fuels currently in use (although rising costs in fossil fuel production could outstrip this problem shortly). * Biodiesel will need a lot of vegetable oil and animal fat to meet the demand, and critics suggest that land use dedicated to filling the need will be astronomical, and largely an inefficient use of land in supporting the demand. * The EPA reports that American restaurants produce 300,000,000 gallons of waste cooking oil every year, and although biodiesel can be produced from it, in the past it went to producing soaps, etc, but the cost of collecting it has caused Biodieselers to celebrate because a lot of them are happy to collect it for free. There is a lot of support in the potential of biodiesel eventually helping to replace fossil fuels. In order to generate an accurate calculation on whether it's a viable alternative or not, there are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration. Check out my new book 'The Secrets of Biodiesel' and really get a handle on this.
Biodiesel commercially, is not cost effective today because it is not produced in such a large-scale. If it were manufactured on a larger scale, it may have a greater effect on price. To use a different example, it costs more-per-car to produce only one or two cars than it costs to produce 10 cars, or a hundred cars, or thousand cars. (This is why Henry Ford is hailed as a genius of the production industry, because he reduced car prices by creating an assembly line). So once the scale of biodiesel is ramped up, the cost will be more effective.
The cost of biodiesel has become very affordable as a way to fuel cars and heat homes of our individual Biodieselers, however, replacing the current processing plants that take oil and turn it into fuel may be so high that it is prohibitive, and asking drivers to switch vehicles or swap engines may not be an alternative for everyone. So clearly, there will need to be a "phasing in" effect in order to increase biodiesel or other bio-fuels, thereby greatly reducing the stranglehold of petroleum-based fuels. Another factor to consider is the social cost. While many people do have the best intentions in mind to reduce emissions and waste and improve on their use of fossil fuels, people still make decisions based on their own personal impact; how much money and time will they save? There may be lots of people that are concerned about ecology, but there are so many more people concerned about whether they can afford to make the transition.
Until biodiesel becomes the cheaper choice, the general public will not make the transition. Copyright (c) 2008 Mervyn Rees.
Mervyn Rees - The author of, 'The Secrets of Biodiesel'. http://www.whybiodiesel.com An active young 72 year old with a lifespan of experience to share, being a Fellow of the Institute Motoring Industry, built his own Dragonfly Roadsters before retiring as a Motor Vehicle Manufacturer. Having tried retiring twice and given up, he has now created an additional website http://www.mervtech.com to share his many interests with other companionable people.