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BioDiesel Class 101

Class # 1 - What is BioDiesel?

    Biodiesel is the mono-alkyl-esters of long-chain fatty-acids derived from renewable organic oil lipid sources. Biodiesel is produced from feed stocks like vegetable oils, used cooking oils and animal fats.

    BioDiesel for vehicles or Bio-Heat as it is called when used in oil furnaces is a man made clean burning fuel substitute that is made from natural materials such as vegetable oil, alcohol & Lye. It is both stable & environmentally friendly. If spilled on the ground, the soil bacteria will break it down in about 2 weeks. Once fully processed it is basically non-toxic & no more hazardous than table salt although we wouldn't recommend drinking it. Provided it is kept dry in a full steel container with very little air & kept cool, it can be stored for resonably long periods of time. Because it is made from present day carbons rather than antique million year old dinosaur carbons, BioDiesel does not contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for Global Warming. BioDiesel is made from a present day farm crop likely raised within the past year making any carbon molecules it contains recent ones stored by the crop earlier that year. Releasing these stored present day carbons simply puts back what was borrowed from the environment earlier that year.

    The chemicals used to make BioDiesel are closely linked to the energy market. As energy prices go up, so do the chemicals. This is the reason it currently costs ~ $1.25 per gallon to make BioDiesel yourself. Lye is used as a chemical catalyst and to turn the process slightly alkaline, it gets mostly consumed when it converts the vegetable oils and alcohol into the new chemical Methyl Ester. The alcohol normally used to make BioDiesel is pure anhydrous Methanol also known as wood alcohol which is currently made from Methane gas. We use Methanol because it is cheap to purchase in anhydrous (DRY, no water present) form. The Lye we use most often is plain old Sodium Hydroxide, the same lye contained in Crystal Draino. The vegetable oil we use most often is Waste Vegetable Oil normally obtained free from local restaurants.

    BioDiesel can be burned in any Diesel Engine. The US EPA is currently talking about requiring all #2 diesel fuel to contain no less than 20% BioDiesel in an attempt to lower our dependency on foreign oil. This new Blend of fuel is called B20.

    BioDiesel is known as BioHeat when it is mixed with home heating oil. BioDiesel a diesel fuel substitute cannot be used in gasoline engines. Diesel engines are compression based engines & Cetane is the measurement of how easy the fuel is to self ignite when under compression, a higher number means it is easier to self ignite when compressed. BioDiesel cetane values are very close to #2 diesel fuel making it a very good substitute fuel. While costing 66% less than #2 diesel fuel, BioDiesel generally gets about 8% less MPG which is a good trade off. BioDiesel and #2 Diesel fuel are fully compatible, you can mix BioDiesel in any ratio with #2 diesel fuel at will. Straight BioDiesel is called B100 or Neat BioDiesel is 100% pure, Mixtures such as B25 is 25% BioDiesel & 75% #2 diesel fuel. The number following the letter B stands for the percent concentration of BioDiesel with the remainder being #2 diesel fuel.

 Properties of B100 or pure BioDiesel:

  1. Has a flash point around 300 degrees F which is higher than home heating oil or #2 diesel fuel (making it much safer to store).

  2. Has greater lubricity than #2 diesel fuel so it is generally much better for your Fuel Injection Pump.

  3. Diesel engines run much quieter on BioDiesel fuel.

  4. Has nearly the same viscosity as #2 diesel fuel.

  5. Has nearly the same Cetane value as #2 diesel fuel making it a great substitute.

  6. BioDiesel has 7% less energy content as #2 diesel, so the difference is very minimal.

  7. Generally, soybean based BioDiesel has a cloud point a little below 40F, this temperature can vary depending on the type of vegetable oil used to make it.

And you thought we forgot.....

  1. What 3 chemicals is BioDiesel made from?

  2. What is the chemical name of the compound we call BioDiesel?

  3. What name does BioDiesel go under when used as home heating oil?

  4. What chemical process did the scientist named Colgate discover that allows us to make BioDiesel?

  5. If spilled on the ground, how long does BioDiesel take to break down?

  6. What kind of mileage difference can you expect to notice between BioDiesel & #2 diesel fuel?

  7. What does the term Cetane mean?

  8. "Neat" BioDiesel means what?

  9. Does BioDiesel contribute to Global Warming when burned as fuel, if not why?

  10. BioDiesel has lubricity that is different than #2 diesel fuel, is it higher or lower?

  11. At what temperature range does soybean based BioDiesel generally begin to cloud?


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Last modified: 12/26/18