Being "eco" is becoming more and more popular. People eat organic food and sort rubbish. Children are given eco-toys and their parents use terry nappies. More and more frequently, people change diesel oil for so-called biodiesel. The fact that it is "eco" is its great asset. What are the other advantages (and disadvantages) of biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a biofuel used in diesel engines. It is chemically processed vegetable oil, for example rapeseed oil or animal fat combined with methanol and a catalyst (e.g. KOH). Fatty acid methyl esters, as well as fuel blends with diesel oil are also called biodiesel. The world’s production of biofuel is increasing each year by 20%.
This type of fuel is an environment friendly product. Biodiesel does not produce air pollution by sulfur compounds, because it has content of SO2 close to zero. Moreover, it burns much cleaner than petroleum-derived fuels (even if they meet the latest standards for chemical composition). In comparison with conventional diesel fuel biodiesel is characterized by a lower content of carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons (up to 40%),lower fogging, much lower CO2 emissions and less carcinogenic compounds.
Biodiesel, beside having environment friendly composition of exhaust fumes is also biodegradable. Even if it enters into the soil or groundwater, it does not contaminate them.
Biodiesel has excellent lubricating properties, better than regular diesel. They allow to increase the durability of injection equipment in the engine, and thus, prolong engine’s life.
Economic arguments also support the use of biodiesel:
1. production of biodiesel from rapeseed oil activates the rural areas and allows to develop fallow lands
2. Biodiesel does not increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels
3. through the use of domestically produced additives for liquid fuels it is possible to get partial energy independence of a particular country from oil supplies, as well as, reduce the dependence of the fuel prices from price changes in oil or exchange rates
Problems arising from the use of this particular biofuel are, among others.: The possibility of dissolving the wires and pipes made of rubber and some plastics, the possibility of clogging the fuel filters due to deposition of pollutants, low resistance to oxidation (it affects the time of its storage), greater consumption (compared to diesel fuel it has lower combustible value) and the possible need for use an additional radiators for biodiesel (to use the optimal dose of fuel by injection equipment). Biodiesel also blocks the cold fuel filter at a temperature higher than diesel.
Biodiesel is biodegradable, nontoxic, less expensive and less harmful to the environment in comparison with diesel fuel (diesel). However, its use may contribute to the oil filter replacement or other major damage. It is better to use it in older vehicles, as the newer models require diesel fuel with high cetane number, which biofuel does not have.