# Why not collecting ALL of the used cooking oil and transform it into biodiesel?

1. Sep 20, 2011

### estro

I know biodiesel could be made from used cooking oil.
Also I know that we use a lot of cooking oil. [fast food industry for example]

Why not collecting ALL of the used cooking oil and transform it into biodiesel?
What are the shortcomings?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel" [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
2. Sep 20, 2011

### estro

Re: Biodiesel

Why not making it on large scale?
As far as I know biodiesel is usable on standart diesel motors?

3. Sep 20, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

4. Sep 20, 2011

### Ms Music

Re: Biodiesel

\$

IMHO, it isn't popular because no fuel company knows how to make big profits off of it.

Also, are you talking about the blends, or what the veggie van runs on?

http://veggievan.org/veggievan/ [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
5. Sep 20, 2011

### estro

Re: Biodiesel

Indeed this will never replace oil products, but not taking full advantage of it, is a waste in my opinion as 0.07 of US gas is not something you can neglect.

6. Sep 20, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: Biodiesel

It's also a problem of distribution, that is all oil from the entire United States. Did you read the reasons provided in the article?

7. Sep 20, 2011

### estro

Re: Biodiesel

Yes, I guess I forgot this [important] factor...
Thanks for clearing this for me.

8. Sep 20, 2011

### Ms Music

Re: Biodiesel

It is to the oil industry. There is not enough profit to justify trying to save (in their opinion) that small percentage.

I can buy biodiesel locally (although very expensive), but not veggie oil.

9. Sep 20, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

A few comment here.

Firstly, vegetable oil makes a terrible fuel. And while the laws are not typically enforced, vegetable oil is not legal to run [at least, it's not legal to sell as s fuel]. When one makes biodiesel from vegetable oil, however - the good stuff - the transesterication process removes the glycerin from the oil and converts the oil molecules to ones virtually identical those found in diesel fuel.

Biodiesel is a legal and viable fuel. And it doesn't require engine conversions and a spare tank to use.

Next, many companies like McDonalds are capturing their oil and converting it to fuel for their delivery trucks.

All in all, biodiesel is not a good fuel option unless it can be produced from algae. When taken from standard crops like soybeans, cotton, palm, etc, the return per acre-year is almost as bad as ethanol, which is ridiculously low. The key is to pursue the algae option and similar technologies that offer twenty times the yield per acre year, or more, as compared to ethanol. Then biodiesel could virtually eliminate the need for petro. And best of all, it is carbon neutral.

Vegetable oil will never be a good fuel option for the foreseeable future.

For the sake of perspective when it comes to yields, we once estimated that, in order to replace all US energy sources with ethanol from corn, the corn fields required would have to be twice the land area of the US! Unfortunately, most biodiesel crops don't produce much better than corn. For those that do, the yields are still far too low to be practical.

Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
10. Sep 20, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

I should specify this to mean typical vegetable oils. There are some hybrid oil-fuels being considered. The Boeing 737 test flight used, I believe, a mix of jatropha oil, algae oil, and something else...not sure now. The exact mix and forumulation is likely proprietary information, but the engine was run on pure oils. And there are some algae oils that may be appropriate as a direct fuel. In particular, some algae oils cannot be used to make biodiesel. IIRC, the transesterfication reaction won't proceed because there are no glycerides to react. So there may be some exotic oils that will prove to be practical as a direct fuel option. Oils having a low saturated fat content tend to burn the cleanest. Oils high in saturated fats tend to have the highest energy density.

11. Sep 20, 2011

### klimatos

Re: Biodiesel

My oldest daughter has her PHD in Mineral Economics and makes her living as a biodiesel consultant. Since both she and Ivan Seeking obviously know more about biodiesel than I do, I am not about to get technical. She spends a lot of time telling entrepreneurs that they are not going to get rich off of biodiesel.

From what she has said on numerous occasions, you cannot economically make biodiesel without three things: 1) Massive and reliable quantities of feedstock in very close proximity to 2) concentrated markets, and with the assistance of 3) Substantial subsidies.

She does not see any single alternative fuel or any foreseeable combination of alternative fuels cutting into the dominance of coal and petroleum.

12. Sep 22, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

I would be curious to know her thoughts on the algae option; as a future option. I would assume that someone in her position just takes a wait and see approach, but the algae people and the classic biodiesel crowd don't seem to talk much. I tend to assume this is because algae cuts the traditional farmer out of the loop, and traditional farmers have been the main drivers of the biodiesel option.

13. Sep 22, 2011

### estro

Re: Biodiesel

Little bit off-topic, but couldn't resist:

What do you think is the future of personal transportation?
1. Electric motor based cars.
2. Some sort of biodiesel powered cars.
3. Other?

Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
14. Sep 22, 2011

### Ryan_m_b

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

Would be brilliant if the following criteria were met;
- Batteries that are as efficient at holding energy/power as petrol
- Green alternatives to making that energy i.e. renewable, nuclear otherwise you just move the problem
As long as it avoids the problem of farmland being converted to biodiesel cash crops and remained unpolluting.
Other alternatives could be effective city planning to include a very good and very efficient public transport network. I was shocked once to hear from an American that when they were growing up in a small town the nearest grocery store was 5miles away and there were no buses. Apparently this is fairly normal in the US. I grew up in a small town (UK) and there were dozens of different bus services running to different parts of town, local villages/towns, nearby train stations, airports etc. And that is fairly normal yet horrifically bad compared to large cities with pervasive public transport.

15. Sep 22, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: Biodiesel

When I lived in upstate New york, the nearest grocery store was 8 miles away. Except in a handful of large cities, public transportation is scarce to almost unheard of, you get in a car and drive. You might find buses "downtown" in some large cities, but there is no bus or other transportation to the city from the suburbs. They recently put a few metro buses here a few years ago, but they don't even come to where I live.

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

16. Sep 22, 2011

### Ryan_m_b

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

"Suburbs" is a word I understand to be something completely different on either side of the pond. I've been informed that the population density of a suburb in the US would resemble that of a hamlet or isolated village in the UK. To us a suburb is the less densely packed edge of a settlement that isn't really much less dense.

To be so far from a shop just sounds alien. Even in villages in the UK a shop would be less than a mile away and over the past several years there's been a massive change in the big chain shops wherein they are replacing their large out of town shopping centres with a multitude of inner city "express" shops*. A personal example of this is that as I type this I'm in a suburban detached house in a county shire on the edge of a countryside and I still have within a mile radius two express shops. Where I usually live in London is very residential and there are still over a dozen of such shops in a mile or two radius.

Things like this really reduce the need for a car. Rather than driving to the out of town shopping centre several miles away it's much easier to get off the bus/train after work and nip into an express shop on the way home to buy a couple of bags of shopping. With rising fuel prices (and greener regulation) I can see this becoming the norm in Europe over large weekly shops with a car.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesco#Tesco_Express
*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sainsbury's_Local

17. Sep 22, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Re: Biodiesel

That is partly because we have so many square miles per capita, as compared to Europe. Nevermind rail, we still can't even get cable TV where we live! They can't justify stringing the lines for the small population serviced.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, we had rail systems for public transit. And most cities have good bus services with light rail being common as well now. But back in the 1950s, cars were glamorized and won the transportation battle here in the US. So, generally speaking, we built highways instead of rail systems.

18. Sep 22, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
If have often thought that vehicles like this coupled with public transportation designed to accept these, might be a good option. You just drive to your local station and then drive right onto the train.

19. Sep 22, 2011

### Ryan_m_b

Staff Emeritus
Well with the burgeoning technology behind self-driving cars it may not be that far from reality. All it would take is to build some isolated roads like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_bus" [Broken] as well.

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
20. Sep 22, 2011

### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Here in the US, we could convert many many miles of bicycle pathways to personal vehicles pathways. And we already have public transportation and rail systems, we just don't use them; in many cases, because they're not practical. It seems to me that a hybrid system comprised of personal vehicles and public transportation, could work, and without the need for huge projects, less the need for specialized rail cars and access points.

Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017