What Is Biodiesel? How IS IT Produced & Why Is It Used?

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What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a diesel-like biodegradable fuel. It is a non-toxic fuel produced from organic material. The organic raw material needed for producing bio-diesel use fatty substances. They include vegetable oils, waste cooking oil, animal fat and non-edible plant oils.

The properties of bio-diesel resemble closely to petroleum-based diesel. Besides, existing diesel engines do not require major modifications in order to run on bio-diesel. Thus, scientists all over the world are considering it as a substitute for the regular diesel.

Nomenclature of biodiesel blends:

Like the ethanol blends, there is a specific method to denote bio-diesel blends. Consider the following example.

Blend: B10, where B stands for Bio-diesel. The number 10 denotes the percentage of biodiesel in blend by volume. Thus, in simple terms, B10 means 10% biodiesel and 90% regular diesel. Similarly, B50 means 50% biodiesel + 50% regular diesel. However, B100 means 100% bio-diesel.

Biodiesel production:

There are several techniques available for converting the organic material into bio-diesel. They are microemulsion, pyrolysis or thermal cracking and transesterification. Among these, transesterification has achieved commercial success worldwide.

Transesterification is a reaction between the raw material and a suitable alcohol that takes place in presence of a catalyst. Generally, industries prefer using methanol or methyl alcohol. However, other alcohols are also effective. Transesterification converts large triglyceride molecules present in the oil into straight chain molecules. Thus, technically, bio-diesel is a 'mono-alkyl ester'.

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