Monday, June 04, 2007

How Can I Benefit from BioDiesel?

By Steve Dolan

If you have an interest in being environmentally friendly, then no doubt you're aware of the damage fossil fuels are doing to our environment. Not only that, but at some point they will run out. Add in the recent jump in gas prices, and it's hardly surprising that more people are talking about making their own biodiesel fuel. Although it sounds like a great idea, you need to consider a few points before going ahead and making your own biodiesel fuel.

What Is Biodiesel?

To start with, let's take a look at what biodiesel fuel actually is. At its most simple, biodiesel fuel is made from either vegetable oil, animal fat, or mixture of the two. It's a clean burning fuel that is made from renewable resources hence the name biodiesel.

Generally, biodiesel fuel is made from straight vegetable oil, sometimes referred to as SVO. So if you want to make your own biodiesel fuel, you'll need to have an adequate supply of the basic ingredients. Unfortunately, most households don't produce enough waste animal fat or vegetable fat to come anywhere close to making enough biodiesel fuel to keep the family car running.

Using Recycled oil

This has led to a whole new industry, with the basic aim of sourcing much larger quantities of raw product. They get together with restaurants, bakeries, and any other business that uses a deep fryer, so that they can collect the used oil for recycling. The oils are then blended and used as the basis for biodiesel fuel. The processes are the same as you'd use to make biodiesel fuel at home, but by having access to a much larger supply of raw products, these companies can produce biodiesel in quantities that are more viable.

Can I make it at Home?

One thing to remember is that it's not quite this simple! Used vegetable oil needs to be mixed and stored, which can be quite a problem if you have large amounts of it. You also need to dewater, filter and deacidify the waste oil before it can be used for making biodiesel. This makes the production of biodiesel fuel at home a lot more complicated.

Having said that, it's certainly still quite possible to make biodiesel fuel at home, simply by buying straight vegetable oil, rather than using waste products. Even though it will cost you a lot more, when you compare it to the cost of buying the necessary amount of gas to run your car for a year, you can still save an enormous amount - somewhere around 75 percent. Even better, you're saving the environment too.

Can I mix it with Petroleum?

The short answer is yes! It can be blended with petroleum in any percentages and used as fuel. There is a fuel called B20 which is 20 percent biodiesel that has shown significant environmental benefits. It can be used in an existing diesel engine with either little or no modifications. The only thing to be aware of is that biodiesel acts as a solvent and can remove old deposits on on your fuel tank walls and your fuel lines. This may lead to a clogging of your filters so care should be taken. But hey - then you have a clean system!!

So if you're interested in saving money and helping out the environment, look at the option of making biodiesel fuel at home. It takes a little bit of effort, but the rewards are definitely worthwhile.

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