The technology has been in use for quite sometime and there are a select group of individuals who do use and support the use of BioDiesel. The fuel comes from used cooking oil and unused cooking oil that is processed to break down the fatty acid that makes up the vegetable oil.
Transesterification is the process of converting the base material (which is common used cooking grease in a reaction vessel that converts it into fuel grade diesel fuel. It is filtered through very fine membranes that takes out any foreign matter or suspended matter in the case of used oil and then mixed with methanol or some other alcohol with potassium hydroxide added as a catalyst. The result of the chemical reaction are esters and glycerol with the first one being the BioDiesel.
Like all fuels, the technology has its pro’s and con’s which are currently being addressed with research and the development of better refining technologies. On the good side of things, it is biodegradable, mainly because it comes from natural products and bacteria can break it down unlike petroleum based products that can damage the environment. Surprisingly, BioDiesel also performs better in terms of engine lubrication for it has a better ability to seep into the engine’s parts (due to smaller molecules) prolonging engine life and efficiency. The last benefit is that it needs little if no additional modification to your current engine setup (well except for the fact that all hoses and fuel delivery parts that are made of rubber is dissolved by the stuff) allowing minimal implementation costs. It can also be mixed with petroleum diesel in ratios specified by the ASTM as B20 or 20% bidiesel and 80% Petroleum Diesel. Higher concentrations should be evaluated on a case to case basis for some people have been using pure Biodiesel for years. The problems associated with the technology will be expanded on in the next post.