Bio Fuels Revolution – Biodiesel
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from naturally occurring oils found in a multitude of plants including algas, soybean, safflower, jatropha, palm oil, or animal fats. These oils can undergo a trans-esterification process in order to be used in combustion-ignition (diesel) engines. Biodiesel is produced by reacting vegetable oils or animal fats with an alcohol (typically methanol) to yield a fuel that can be used in any combination with petroleum-based fuels in standard diesel engines.
In order to be used in diesel engines, a biodiesel blend must meet the specifications of the EPA. Moreover, biodiesel burns cleaner than ordinary diesel fuel due to drastically reduced amounts of sulfur found in the fuel. Additionally, biodiesel, when manufactured from plant oils, is also considered to be in net carbon balance, since it only emits as much carbon dioxide as was initially sequestered, or stored, within the plant used for fuel production.
The production of biodiesel in the US have to grown dramatically in few years to meet official mandatory blending plans (10% petro-diesel mix) by 2017. The US will need 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2017. The current US petroleum consumption is about 20.5 million barrels of oil a day, and with that projected to increase over about 2 million barrels by 2010, we’re only producing about 5.2 million barrels a day. This means that we are currently importing 15 million barrels of oil daily. On the other hand, the US biodiesel market has a significant amount of room to grow just to reach the status of its European counterparts where biodiesel represents 2% of total on-road fuel consumption and is expected to reach 6% by 2010. The total amount of biodiesel being sold in the US currently amounts to less than 1/2 of 1% of all petro-diesel on-road consumption.