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Biodiesel: What is Biodiesel?

written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/8/2008

Biodiesel is one of the most promising alternate fuels for the vehicles. Biodiesel is obtained from the renewable energy resources like vegetable oil and animal fats. Biodiesel can be used in the engines of the vehicles in place of petroleum diesel. There are two popular blends of B20 and B100.

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    What is Biodiesel

    Biodiesel is the renewable type of alternate fuels that can be used to drive the vehicles. Though the fuel is named ‘biodiesel’ it is not a petroleum fuel, however, it can be easily blended with petroleum fuel diesel. Biodiesel is the renewable type of fuel because it is made from renewable energy sources like vegetable oil and animal fats. Biodiesel is a biodegradable fuel whose burning produces no toxic and sulfur gases. Biodiesel is being used as the fuel by various vehicles like cars, trucks, buses and tractors.

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    Production of Biodiesel

    Biodiesel is made by carrying out chemical processes on new or used vegetable oils and animal fats. One of the common vegetables from which biodiesel are being produced is soya bean. At the end of the chemical process methyl esters, which are the chemical name for biodiesel, and glycerin, are formed.

    The chemical process of the formation of biodiesel is called transesterification. During the chemical process reaction of natural oils is carried out with alcohol, the mixture formed this way is further refined to form biodiesel molecules. The byproduct of the chemical reaction is glycerin, which can be used as personal care products or for carrying out various chemical reactions.

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    Biodiesel as Fuel

    At present biodiesel is being used as the alternate fuel for a number of vehicles. Biodiesel can be used as the fuel for vehicles in pure form or it can be blended with petroleum diesel in any ratio and be used as the fuel. The blend of 20% of biodiesel and 80% of petroleum diesel is designated as B20, while 100% biodiesel is designated as B100.

    The B20 can be used in almost all the diesel engines without carrying out any changes in the engine. As the content of biodiesel increases in the biodiesel blend beyond B20 the users must know the issues of potential impact on the engine warranties. You may also have to change the hoses and gaskets for the engine.