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Biodiesel: Is It Worth Considering? Essay

2861 words - 11 pages

In the late 1890's, a man by the name of Rudolph Diesel invented a new fuel for stronger vehicles with the environment in mind. This new fuel was diesel, and originally the engines were designed to run on refined vegetable oils such as soybean oil. Over three-hundred years have passed, and the use of soybean oil is still in use, only it is the kind of a sprouting breed. This new fuel emission is called biodiesel, composed of a 30% diesel to 70% biodiesel mixture.However, inexpensive petroleum based fuels prevented biodiesel fuels from receiving much consideration until the fuel shortages in the 1970's and again during the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s. Since these two interruptions, coupled with the terrorist attacks today, fossil fuel prices are beginning to climb, and the wide-spread population is turning to hybrid and biodiesel running cars. The American conversion to biofuels did not happen until the late 1990s even though it has been used extensively in Europe for nearly a quarter century.Biodiesel, by definition, refers to any renewable fuel made from any sort of organic compound. Popular questions such as: will biodiesel become an important renewable fuel across the United States? And what feedstocks (producers and origins) can be used to produce biodiesel? Are asked in order to answer the biggest biodiesel question of them all: Is biodiesel practical and safe? (Jefferson) These questions and other important issues concerning biodiesel are addressed in this paper.Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine over 100 years ago with vegetable oil as the fuel choice. As petroleum became the dominate low cost energy source, petroleum diesel was developed as the primary fuel for diesel engines. While biodiesel is a biodegradable and cleaner burning diesel replacement fuel made from natural, renewable sources. These fats and oils that compose biodiesel, are chemically reacted with an alcohol (usually methanol) to produce the technical term for biodiesel. The simplified production formula is 100 pounds of oil or fat plus 10 pounds alcohol equals 100 poundsbiodiesel and 10 pounds glycerol (Jefferson).The national security issue was especially heightened after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Foreign crude oil currently accounts for nearly 60 percent of the amount used in the U.S (Ellis). In light of this, the federal government is considering a renewable fuels standard that will increase biofuels usage from 2 billion gallons in 2002 to 5 billion gallons by 2012 (Cramer).There are many benefits in using biodiesel, some of which are as follows. Biodiesel runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine, so no engine modifications are necessary to use biodiesel. Biodiesel can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored. All diesel fueling pumps, tanks and transport trucks can use biodiesel without modifications. Biodiesel eliminates Carbon Dioxide emissions, the primary cause of the Greenhouse Effect. Since biodiesel comes from...

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