Biodiesel—The Most Viable Biofuel
Biodiesel is a clean-burning, alternative fuel produced from renewable resources. Biodiesel offers us a symbiotic relationship between our need for fuel and our ability to produce it. No longer do we have to depend on the energy left here by dinosaurs—energy that is becoming increasingly more difficult and more costly to obtain. We are now in the age when agriculture will provide the fuel not only for our bodies, but for our combustible engines as well.
Biodiesel has the following advantages:
- Is a clean, renewable biofuel with combustion properties similar to petroleum diesel
- Is made from triglycerides arising from animal or plant origin and is neutral in the carbon cycle
- Can be made from fresh vegetable oils or from used, off-specification, and waste oils arising from the food processing industry or from fats, tallow, and animal oils arising from the rendering industry (providing Texas BioDiesel’s exclusive technology is used)
- Has many advantages over traditional petroleum derived fuel, including reduced tailpipe emissions and biodegradability
- Can be burned directly in existing diesel engines; for engines built prior to the mid-1980s, only minor modifications to organic polymer based hoses and seals are required
- Can also be distributed to the mass market through the existing fuel transportation and distribution infrastructure, requiring only minor upgrade and modification
March to Market
Biodiesel fuel has been tested extensively for emissions and for compatibility with existing engines, public and private fleets, and fuel property standards. Significant milestones have already been reached, including:
- Development of a fuel standard
- U.S. Congressional recognition and qualification as an alternative fuel
- Engine manufacturer acceptance
- Positive public image and acceptance
Overcoming Obstacles to Biodiesel Viability
Until now, the primary obstacle to full-blown biodiesel production in the United States has been the cost, currently $2 to $3+ per gallon. The components that contribute the most to biodiesel fuel costs include:
- Feedstock costs—The use of fresh vegetable oil, the most available conventional feedstock for biodiesel, has been more expensive compared to petroleum derived products. The cost of fresh vegetable oil is high because of other major market demands.
- Byproduct values—A typical methyl ester synthesis process uses fresh vegetable oils as a feed and reacts those oils with methanol in a batch, liquid-base catalyzed process. Synthesis of biodiesel by this process consumes caustic, requires significant neutralization to eliminate the liquid-base catalyst, produces a significant amount of waste, and produces a low value glycerol byproduct due to the caustic remaining in the product.
- Production costs—Synthesis of biodiesel by a typical methyl ester synthesis process is work-hour and capital intensive. As well, conventional production methods require a time and energy intensive separation of the final products and excess alcohol.
Texas BioDiesel’s exclusive solid-catalyst technology overcomes these obstacles and reduces these costs significantly, thereby spearheading the rapid migration from petroleum-based, below-ground, expensive diesel fuel, to lower-risk, above-ground, economical biodiesel.
Some Biodiesel Facts
- Contains no petroleum, but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend
- Burns in compression-ignition (diesel) engines without having to perform major modifications to the engine
- Is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics
Biodiesel is a fuel composed of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, designated B100, and meets the requirements of The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D 6751.