What is biodiesel?Date posted: February 8, 2005
Clean burning and renewable, Biodiesel is a diesel fuel replacement typically made from soybean oil. It can be made from a variety of vegetable oils or animal fats, and used as a pure fuel or blended with petroleum in any percentage.
According to Willie Nelson's Biodiesel, B5, a blend of five percent Biodiesel and 95 percent by volume of petroleum diesel has shown improvements in performance, enhanced lubricity and some reduction in emissions. B20, a blend of 20 percent Biodiesel with 80 percent petroleum diesel, has shown significant environmental benefits with a minimum increase in cost. For example, says Peter Bell of Willie Nelson Biodiesel, prices at a Dallas truck stop may typically run U.S. $2.00 per gallon for regular diesel compared to $2.10 per gallon for a B20 biodiesel blend.
Typical estimates of biodiesel production show it has grown from roughly 20 million gallons annually to 40 million gallons annually over the past several years. Soybean oil has been the dominant raw material.
In Canada, one research centre exploring the potential in biodiesel has been Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development's AgTech Centre in Lethbridge. Biodiesel shows tremendous promise because of its cleaner-burning nature and its potential ability to increase market opportunities for Canadian agricultural products, says Kelly Lund, an AAFRD engineer in training. New interest in making biodiesel more cost-competitive with regular diesel will also increase its attractiveness, she says.
„Biodiesel and other renewable fuels are experiencing a revival as jurisdictions worldwide are looking to increase energy and economic security, as well as ensure environmentally sustainable energy production long-term,‰ says Lund.
More information on the AgTech Centre work on biodiesel is available here.
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