The first major point is that biodiesel is made from renewable resources (vegetable oil and animal fats). Not having to worry about running out in the future is a major plus. In addition to being able to sustain biodiesel in our own back yards, the decrease of dependence on foreign oil is a huge step. This will also create more jobs (such as biodiesel crop farming) and in turn boost our economy. Another major positive for biodiesel is that it’s better for our environment.
It produces a lot less emission than normal petrol diesel. As a matter of fact, the toxicity is less than ordinary table salt and it’s as biodegradable as sugar!
Toxicity facts for biodiesel usage include:
emissions that cause health problems such as asthma are reduced 47%
carbon monoxide (which is poisonous) is reduced 48%
carbon dioxide is 80% less
sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, is practically eliminated
combustion leaves 90% less unburned hydrocarbons, causing hydrocarbon emission (which produces smog and ozone depletion) to decrease 90% Other positive qualities of biodiesel are:
It does not use more energy to make than it produces. Including the planting and harvesting of crops, as well as fuel production and transportation, for every unit of energy it takes to make biodiesel, 3.2 units are gained.
It can be mixed at any level with petroleum diesel to create a blend that is suitable for cars with minor, if any modifications (the most common is B-20, which is 20% biodiesel and 80% petrol diesel).
It has very little difference in performance, consumption, horsepower, torque, and haulage rates compared to diesel fuel.
The flash temperature (temperature it ignites in the air) is much higher for biodiesel making it safer to be around. Significantly, biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to pass the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety testing in the US (one of the most thorough testing for current technology).
Some negative points -
Biodiesel has a tendency to gel up in cold weather, which is a potential problem in colder climates.
Another possible negative is that depending on the mixture, emissions of nitrogen oxide, a greenhouse gas, can be slightly higher than petrol diesel.
Also, like normal fuel, biodiesel has a shelf life which tends to be between 6-12 months. Since biodiesel is a low sulfur fuel, it may cause some damage to car parts. For this reason, many equipment manufacturers have switched their parts to ones suitable for low sulfur fuel.
Where can I get it?
Biodiesel producers and petrol distributors should be able to provide it for you, or at least tell you the nearest place that sells biodiesel. There are public biodiesel pumps now available, so you can fill up with clean fuel at the station as usual. There is one in Sydney called The Biodiesel Station located at 73 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204. This station supplies the B50 biodiesel (half bio, half petrol diesel).
What’s the deal in Australia?
Currently, Australia relies on foreign countries for more than 50% of our fuel. Advocates of biodiesel claim that increasing our use of biodiesel will not only increase Australia’s independence, but also create more jobs such as biodiesel crop farming. Action is being taken to integrate biodiesel into the country and our daily lives. The Leichhardt Municipal Council in Sydney has switched over all of its trucks, sweepers, tractors and mowers to B50 biodiesel.
This has reduced their Greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% and sets an example for other companies to follow. In the Northern Territory 5 Darwin busses are now running on biodiesel for a trial. Also, Natural Fuels is creating a 77 million dollar biodiesel facility at East Arm in the Northern Terrritory.
This facility will provide three times more production than existing plants in Australia. The Federal Government has helped out by implementing a tax exemption for biodiesel to encourage people to use this environment friendly resource. This ultimately lowers the costs of biodiesel making it more affordable than normal petrol.
A new biodiesel plant opened in Adelaide at the end of March 2006. It is capable of producing about 45 million litres of diesel per year (keep in mind the US and Europe are producing 1-2 billion litres per year). The government has made a target of 350 million megalitres of renewable fuel to be made each year. Global scopeBiodiesel is now being used in Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Sweden, France, the US, Australia and many more countries.
France is the world’s largest producer, integrating biodiesel into every litre of low sulphur diesel in the country. In Sweden, they have made the first biogas run train! Also, in the US, the federal and state vehicles are a good way into their switch to using biodiesel blends.