Biodiesel

A brief summary into the benefits and drawbacks to Biodiesel.

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  • Created by: Matthew
  • Created on: 05-06-11 18:12
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Biodiesel:
Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl
esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids e.g. vegetable oil with an alcohol.
Applications:
Blends of biodiesel and conventional hydrocarbon-based diesel are products most commonly
distributed for use in the retail diesel fuel marketplace. The specific blends of biodiesel are given
certain "B" factors to state the ratio of biodiesel to conventional diesel.
The higher the B rating, the more biodiesel is in the blend and hence it is more economically friendly.
Biodiesel can be used in pure form B100 or may be blended with petroleum diesel at any
concentration in most injection pump diesel engines.
Newer rail engines have strict factory limits of B5 or B20 depending on manufacturer. This is due to
biodiesel having different solvent properties to conventional diesel. So much so that the higher rated
blends can degrade and erode rubber washers and hoses in vehicles.
Properties:
Biodiesel has better lubricating properties and much higher cetane ratings than today's lower sulfur
diesel fuels. A cetane rating is a measurement of the combustion quality of a diesel fuel during
compression ignition
Biodiesel addition reduces fuel system wear and in low levels in high pressure systems increases the
life of the fuel injection equipment that relies on the fuel for its lubrication.
Problems:
Biodiesel may contain small but problematic quantities of water. This water causes problems
because:
Water reduces the heat of combustion of the bulk fuel. This means more smoke, harder
starting, less power.
Water causes corrosion of vital fuel system components: fuel pumps, injector pumps, fuel
lines, etc.
Water & microbes cause the paper element filters in the system to fail (rot), which in turn
results in premature failure of the fuel pump due to ingestion of large particles.
Water accelerates the growth of microbe colonies, which can plug up a fuel system. Biodiesel
users who have heated fuel tanks therefore face a year-round microbe problem.
One of the main drivers for adoption of biodiesel is energy security. This means that a nation's
dependence on oil is reduced, and substituted with use of locally available sources, such as coal, gas,
or renewable sources.

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