Biodiesel is an alternative fuel source

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Okay, so I was watching Trucks! on spike tv last week, and he did an episode on biodiesel, even made some right before our very eyes. For those of you who don't know, biodiesel is an alternative fuel source for diesel powered enginens. It is a mixture of old used vegitable oil or fried food grease, methanol, and lye. It looks like pretty good stuff. You get better gas mileage, better for your engine, and almost superior to petroleum diesel in every way. Plus it smells like a big french fry cooker going down the road! It is also better for the environment and our health. It reduces risk of cancer by quite a bit. And you can get it for a whopping 70 cents per gallon!

what do you think?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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Pre-AlgebraDude said:
what do you think?
I think this claim, in particular:
better for your engine
...is highly dubius.
 
  • #3
Pengwuino
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Yah I also remember an article saying it breaks down engines faster then 87 gasoline. I wonder how much an engine overhaul costs vs. savings with biodiesel. I hear they are very helpful in heavy machinery applications where the engines are very powerful and well built.
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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  • #5
Skyhunter
Pengwuino said:
Yah I also remember an article saying it breaks down engines faster then 87 gasoline. I wonder how much an engine overhaul costs vs. savings with biodiesel. I hear they are very helpful in heavy machinery applications where the engines are very powerful and well built.
It is for diesel engines not gasoline.
 
  • #6
Skyhunter
russ_watters said:
I think this claim, in particular: ...is highly dubius.
I know a diesel mechanic who has run into problems with SVO. (straight vegetable oil) He is withholding recommending bio-diesel until he knows more.

Bio-diesel is cleaner, and bio-degradable, however methanol is will eat some rubbers and is hard on the fuel line. There is an process where they use ethanol instead, I don't have any experience with bio-diesel using ethyl esters as opposed to methyl esters, so I don't know how well they perform.

You can run bio-diesel in any diesel engine, the only concern is make sure you don't have natural rubber fuel lines. You will need to change your filter after the first tank because the bio-diesel will clean out any deposits left by the diesel fuel and clog up the fuel filter. Some stations are adding bio-diesel to diesel fuel, if you see B10 or B20 diesel that is 10% and 20% bio-diesel.

Here is a good link for bio-fuels, lots of recipes.

http://journeytoforever.org/edu.html#biofuel
 
  • #7
Pengwuino
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Skyhunter said:
It is for diesel engines not gasoline.
man.... i need a memory transplant. Mine doesn't seem to work
 
  • #8
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There's a guy who I see driving around the area where my school is located sometimes (his daughter goes to another school nearby) in a Hummer. Now that's not a very cool story, but the thing is, this hummer is entirely run on what the guy calls "veggie-gas" and is a biodiesel fuel.
 
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  • #9
Astronuc
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While the thread is dated - biodiesel has been advancing in the past couple of years.

Specifically, researchers are looking at 'jotropha' plants as a source of fuel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jatropha

Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 succulent plants, shrubs and trees (some are deciduous, like Jatropha curcas L.), from the family Euphorbiaceae. The name is derived from (Greek iatros = physician and trophe = nutrition), hence the common name physic nut. Jatropha is native to Central America[1] and has become naturalized in many tropical and subtropical areas, including India, Africa, and North America. Originating in the Caribbean, Jatropha was spread as a valuable hedge plant to Africa and Asia by Portuguese traders. The mature small trees bear separate male and female flowers, and do not grow very tall. As with many members of the family Euphorbiaceae, Jatropha contains compounds that are highly toxic.

The hardy Jatropha is resistant to drought and pests, and produces seeds containing up to 40% oil. When the seeds are crushed and processed, the resulting oil can be used in a standard diesel engine, while the residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.[2]

Goldman Sachs recently cited Jatropha curcas as one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production.[3] . . . .
[1] Fairless D. (2007). "Biofuel: The little shrub that could - maybe". Nature 449: 652–655.
[2] "Poison plant could help to cure the planet". The Times (2007-07-08) - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article2155351.ece
[3] Jatropha Plant Gains Steam In Global Race for Biofuels - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118788662080906716.html (subscription required)


And jatropha-based fuel is being tested for use in commercial aircraft.

AIAA Daily Launch said:
Boeing, ANZ Planning Biofuel Flight Test.
Aviation Week (11/13, Warwick) reports Air New Zealand (ANZ) "and Boeing have set Dec. 3 as the date for the first flight test of a sustainable bio-derived replacement for jet fuel." During the test, a 747-400 will "burn a 50:50 blend of conventional jet fuel and a bio-jet fuel derived from jatropha, using a process developed by Honeywell company UOP." Boeing "says the...flight will be the first to use a biofuel that is commercially viable, sustainably sourced and meets or exceeds the performance requirements for a drop-in replacement for conventional jet fuel." Boeing "hopes the...flight, and others planned next year by Japan Airlines and Continental, will persuade government to make funding and incentives available for further research and development of commercial-scale production of bio-jet fuel."

The New Zealand Herald (11/13, Bradley) reports ANZ will put its jatropha-based "biofuel through a punishing two-hour trial over the Hauraki Gulf" this December, "hoping it will emerge as the 'holy grail' of alternatives to traditional jet kerosene. Ground testing of the...fuel has shown it is lighter and has more energy than existing fuel." The Herald adds, "The airline industry is anxious to develop a fossil fuel alternative for its long term prosperity."
 
  • #10
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The problem with using crops for biofuel would always be that it requires domestication of the land, cutting rainforests, and it competes with growing crop for food. Biodiesel from algeae can be produced in unproductive desert areas with higher insolation due to the lack of clouds. That's a big difference.
 
  • #11
chemisttree
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Harvesting Jatropha requires one man per acre. I wonder if that is a full time job? If so, Jatropha oil is likely to be quite expensive in developed countries.

Jatropha produces roughly 900 Kg per hectare in poor soils and 1600 Kg in average ones. This is a range of roughly 360 to 650 Kg per acre. At roughly 4 Kg per gallon, the crude oil yields are about 100 to 150 gallons per acre man year.

http://www.svlele.com/jatropha_plant.htm
 
  • #12
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The only thing that is holding alternative fuels back is the engines.

Currently the engine has been designed for 2 primary fuel sources, Gasoline and Diesel.

What we need is a brand new engine designed that is specifically run on biodiesel, ethanol, etc.
 
  • #13
uart
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Here's a quick calculation that really illustrates the problem with biofuels created from food crops. One litre of diesel contains about 36 MJ of energy and in developed countries we use an average of over 20L (diesel or gas equive) per week per person (averaged over everyone, even those that don’t drive). That's an energy equivalent of over 100MJ per day per person for the entire population. But for our food needs we only need about 8MJ per person per day!

So one days supply of energy for fuel is equivalent to about 12 days supply of food. Its completely unsustainable, we'd need to increase our agricultural output by 1200% to supply our current fuel needs from crops. This so far out of the feasibility ballpark that it’s a joke.

This is why everybody is finally waking up to the fact that current biofuels options (like ethanol from corn) are not an environmental saviour but rather an ecological disaster. The only future for biofuels will be if new technologies can efficiently produce biofuels (esp alcohol) from non-food waste parts of the crops.
 
  • #14
mheslep
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Here's a quick calculation that really illustrates the problem with biofuels created from food crops. One litre of diesel contains about 36 MJ of energy and in developed countries we use an average of over 20L (diesel or gas equive) per week per person (averaged over everyone, even those that don’t drive). That's an energy equivalent of over 100MJ per day per person for the entire population. But for our food needs we only need about 8MJ per person per day!

So one days supply of energy for fuel is equivalent to about 12 days supply of food. Its completely unsustainable, we'd need to increase our agricultural output by 1200% to supply our current fuel needs from crops. This so far out of the feasibility ballpark that it’s a joke.

This is why everybody is finally waking up to the fact that current biofuels options (like ethanol from corn) are not an environmental saviour but rather an ecological disaster. The only future for biofuels will be if new technologies can efficiently produce biofuels (esp alcohol) from non-food waste parts of the crops.
It appears a prerequisite for making biofuels work as a large scale energy source is energy efficiency, and I don't mean lecturing people to wear sweaters. I believe the current gasoline/diesel usage has room to be cut nearly in half by efficiency increases and moving some transportation to electric power. Then, other factors can come in to play. Switchgrass and other non food source crops could be grown on otherwise untenable land, of which there's plenty, and thus should not significantly displace food crops. As mentioned up thread, algae has a 10-30x greater energy output than vascular biomass.
 
  • #15
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Yah I also remember an article saying it breaks down engines faster then 87 gasoline. I wonder how much an engine overhaul costs vs. savings with biodiesel. I hear they are very helpful in heavy machinery applications where the engines are very powerful and well built.
It is for diesel engines not gasoline.
and AFAIK, there's nothing wrong with 87 octane either, unless you're running a high-compression engine (supercharger, turbo, high-compression heads). i've gotten over 200k on a V8 so far with 87.
 
  • #16
brewnog
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You can run bio-diesel in any diesel engine, the only concern is make sure you don't have natural rubber fuel lines.
That is not the "only concern" at all. Many synthetic 'rubbers' (such as PVC) aren't resistant to biofuel either. Biodiesel can also have an adverse effect on many metal components commonly found in fuel systems, such as copper and zinc. Biodiesel also begins to gel at much higher temperatures than petrochemical diesel, and this can cause problems with fuel injection equipment. Biodiesel is hygroscopic, so if left for periods of time, the fuel can cause premature failure of FIE, corrode the fuel transfer system, and damage pistons.

I'm not against biodiesel in any way, but you need to get some facts straight if you want to consider it for serious use in a vehicle.
 
  • #17
brewnog
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The only thing that is holding alternative fuels back is the engines. Currently the engine has been designed for 2 primary fuel sources, Gasoline and Diesel. What we need is a brand new engine designed that is specifically run on biodiesel, ethanol, etc.
Not true. A conventional diesel engine will run happily on biodiesel with certain modifications/design characteristics, just as a conventional spark ignition engine will run on ethanol.

The problem is creating a sustainable source of second generation feedstocks sufficient to meet demand.
 
  • #18
brewnog
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It is also better for our health. It reduces risk of cancer by quite a bit. what do you think?
These are tall claims.
I think I would like to see you back up these claims with a source.
 
  • #19


I have been running a Volve 740 turbodiesel and a Ford Transit diesel van on biodiesel made from waste veggie oil
Both vehicles have done at least 80,000 miles with no modifications.
All diesel engines will happily run on well made biodiesel.
The methanol caustic and soaps are washed out during the manufacture process and all that is left is pure biodiesel.
The biodiesel does have an effect on rubber and eventually will rot said rubber.
I find it best to be reactive and fix the perished rubber as and when.
Most if not all vehicles manufactured since the early nineties have Viton rubbers and seals this is not affected by the bio.

Incidentally I manufacture my own biodiesel on a small scale
 
  • #20
mheslep
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I have been running a Volve 740 turbodiesel and a Ford Transit diesel van on biodiesel made from waste veggie oil
Both vehicles have done at least 80,000 miles with no modifications.
All diesel engines will happily run on well made biodiesel.
The methanol caustic and soaps are washed out during the manufacture process and all that is left is pure biodiesel.
The biodiesel does have an effect on rubber and eventually will rot said rubber.
I find it best to be reactive and fix the perished rubber as and when.
Most if not all vehicles manufactured since the early nineties have Viton rubbers and seals this is not affected by the bio.

Incidentally I manufacture my own biodiesel on a small scale
Its not clear from the above if you are using your own BD for a substantial portion of that 80k miles. If you buy, who do you buy from?
 
  • #21


As I said in the post I make my own biodiesel.
I use it in both the vehicles mentioned.
Both the vehicles mentioned have done 80,000 miles or so on the biodiesel I have made.
Sorry about the english I am English.
Most vehicles even those with common rail engines will run their life happily on 100% good proper well made biodiesel
 
  • #22
mheslep
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As I said in the post I make my own biodiesel.
I use it in both the vehicles mentioned.
Both the vehicles mentioned have done 80,000 miles or so on the biodiesel I have made.
Sorry about the english I am English.
Most vehicles even those with common rail engines will run their life happily on 100% good proper well made biodiesel
Could you discuss your process for manufacture? That's perhaps 2000 gallons of BD to travel 80,000 miles.
 
  • #23


Rather than describe how I do it why not have a look at this forum.
Plenty to see plenty to learn all things about biodiesel and veggie motoring.

"[URL [Broken]


There are people more qualified than me to teach or show you how to produce this stuff.

http://biodiesel.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=cfrm&s=447609751"
 
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  • #24
mheslep
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Rather than describe how I do it why not have a look at this forum.
Plenty to see plenty to learn all things about biodiesel and veggie motoring.

"[URL [Broken]


There are people more qualified than me to teach or show you how to produce this stuff.

http://biodiesel.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=cfrm&s=447609751"
I'm familiar with the online material and the process in general, have a couple texts. I would find interesting any details you care to share about what you may have personally found particularly useful in holding down costs, managing waste, etc in a 2000 gallon (each?) operation, that I assume is at your residence.
 
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  • #25


QUOTE
"I'm familiar with the online material and the process in general, have a couple texts. I would find interesting any details you care to share about what you may have personally found particularly useful in holding down costs, managing waste, etc in a 2000 gallon (each?) operation, that I assume is at your residence."

I am by law allowed to manufacture 2500 litres per year without the need to register with customs and exise.
40% of the methanol used in the process is reclaimed and used in subsequent batches each batch size is 80 litres.
Waste oil is collected locally collection free of charge.
Metal containers containing wvo are emptied and sold for scrap.
Plastic containers are reused untill i deem them scrap they are then taken to local civic ameneties and recycled.
I use koh in the reaction the demethalated glycerol is composted.
After demethelating there is dropout of soap around 200 ml per 80 litre batch this soap is processed a little and used in my workshop.
I suppose this would lead you to beleive that 60% of the methanol escapes into the enviroment yep thats what happens.
The glycerol reclaimed from a batch of 80 litres is used in the next batch to clean the raw wast veg oil.IE heat wvo to 60c add 20 litres glycerol circulate for 1 to 2 hrs settle then drain glycerol.
The oil that is left will be free of water and the titration level will be less thus saving money on the chemicals and heat for the ensuing 80 litre batch.
 
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