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Is Biodiesel A Viable Alternative To Diesel From Fossil Fuels For Trucks And Buses?

1029 words - 4 pages

1.0 IntroductionBiodiesel is defined as mono-alky esters of long -chain fatty acid. It is a fuel that derived from the vegetable oils, animal fats, which is similar to the diesel fuel except that it is made from the crops. It is produced from domestically grown, renewable sources, such as crop oils or animal fats which are then chemically converted into biodiesel (Habmigren, 2003). Unlike diesel, biodiesel contains no petroleum products and free of sulfur compounds and aromatics (Habmigren, 2003). Until today, it is still the only alternative fuel for motor vehicle. The biodiesel blends have ranged from 2/98% (B2), 20/80% (B20), to 100% (B100) (Hafman, 2003). The reasons biodiesel is a viable alternative to diesel from fossil fuels for trucks and buses are it can reduce the pollution, it can enhance the country's economy, and it is renewable sources and can produce almost same energy as diesel fuels.2.0 Chemical BackgroundBiodiesel comprises long-chain fatty acids with an alcohol attached on it and produced through the reaction of a vegetable oil with alcohol in the presence of the catalyst, such as potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide called transesterification (Hafman, 2003). The catalyst used to hydrolysis the triglyceride, and alcohols combine with the fatty acid to produce biodiesel (Gorham, 2006). After a complete reaction, the glycerol and ester form two liquid layers and catalyst is removed for reuse.(Vegetable oil) + (Alcohol) → (Glycerol) +(Methyl Ester)On the other hand, diesel is made from the petroleum which takes millions of years to form under the earth. Thus, it is a kind of nonrenewable energy source. Same as diesel fuels, biodiesel can generate the engine through combustion process. The cloud point of biodiesel is 13°C whereas the cloud point of diesel fuels is -15°C (Hafman, 2003). Both biodiesel and diesel fuel are liquid in room temperature.3.0 Points of ViewsThe major problem of using the biodiesel is the cost. The cost of biodiesel is slightly higher than conventional diesel fuel. The price of biodiesel would be about 13 to 22 cents more per gallons than conventional diesel (Hafman, 2003). Therefore, not everyone can afford to use the biodiesel. However, situation like this would change in the future. The U.S. Department of Energy working with the producers of biodiesel to reduce the cost of biodiesel (Hafman, 2003). More plants can be grown in order to maximize the production of biodiesel (Gorham, 2006). Besides, the use of waste cooking oil as a raw material in the processing of biodiesel may help to reduce the cost (Hafman, 2003).Another disadvantage brought by the biodiesel is that biodiesel is more sensitive to cold weather compared to the diesel fuel (Gorham, 2006). In cold weather, biodiesel start to cloud and become thicken at about 30F (Hafman, 2003). Therefore, some precautions need to be used for the biodiesel blends.In addition, biodiesel has a solvent effect. It can act as a mild solvent, which...

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