The soaring prices of petroleum and the growing environmental concern to limit the exhaust emissions have led to the use of biodiesel as an alternative to diesel fuel for vehicles. Biodiesel has the potential to be one of the most successful alternative fuels because it can be used in all conventional diesel engines, without any modifications and for its many eco-friendly qualities.
What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a form of diesel fuel manufactured from the fatty acids found in vegetable oils, animal fats, and greases that is used for vehicle fuel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Soybean oil, vegetable oil, animal fat, and recycled restaurant grease are what most biodiesel are made of today. It is safe, biodegradable, and produces less air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel. Even in relatively small blend percentages, the addition of biodiesel as an alternative fuel is a step in the right direction, as a sustainable, domestic alternative, that reduces our dependence on expensive, foreign petroleum.
How Biodiesel is Made
Biodiesel is created through a reaction between vegetable oil and an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst, in a process known as transesterification. Essentially, biodiesel is vegetable oil that has been broken down with chemicals to reduce its viscosity thus making it spray out of a diesel injector nozzle with finer particles, making it easier and cleaner to combust, and safe to engines. For these reasons, you should never fuel your vehicle with clean or used grease or vegetable oil that has not been properly converted to biodiesel; it will damage your engine.
Types of Biodiesels
- B100- Pure 100% biodiesel
- B20- 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel
- B5- 5% biodiesel and 95% petroleum diesel
Biodiesel is extremely versatile as it can be used in any diesel engine if it has been mixed with petroleum diesel. Most diesel cars and SUVs are approved to use blends up to B20 under warranty. B20 is the most common biodiesel blend in the United States. It’s popular because it represents a good balance of cost, emissions, cold-weather performance, materials compatibility, and ability to act as a solvent. Biodiesel can be used in its purest form (B100), however it is less common because it usually requires certain engine modifications to avoid maintenance and performance problems. It is important to check with your owner’s manual or vehicle manufacturer to determine the right blend for your vehicle, since using the wrong blend could damage your engine or void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Waste vegetable oil or WVO can be collected and saved by restaurants and sold to companies that will convert the WVO to biodiesel. Restaurants can store WVO in locked barrel lids and dumpsters, to ensure that the WVO is protected. Then it can be picked up and properly converted through transesterification to biodiesel which can then be used to fuel vehicles. Restaurants that save their WVO to make biodiesel can make money and help the save the environment as well. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, or to learn more about our WVO services contact the experts at Food Grease Trappers today.