07 November, 2007

Another Biodiesel Problem, Solved!

With this breakthrough, biodiesel has become fun again! Now that Rice University boffins have found a way to digest the major slimy slippery waste byproduct into another fuel, (ethanol,) there is no reason to avoid biodiesel any longer.

I don't know about you, but I played with biodiesel despite having no motor to test it in, and what really stumped me was the litre of slippery glycerin that is left behind for every 11 litres of oil you crack into diesel.

Because larger players have been getting into making biodiesel, the demand for glycerin has decreased sharply, one might say... Being able to sell or give it away to an ethanol refinery would solve the major problem, once a month/year/whatever you can have your waste glycerin removed and turned into something useful!

According to the article, each litre of glycerin digests into almost a whole litre of ethanol, meaning there will be little waste to worry about, and I'm betting that the waste there is, will be something that is easily biodegradable, being just the waste from bacteria digestion.

I'm thinking here - car engines run on petroleum, and are not really suited to running on ethanol. Old diesel engines were not really made for biodiesel, either. But once the advantages of biodiesel became apparent, diesel engine manufacturers got wise and now there is hardly a diesel engined domestic car that doesn't claim to run on it.

Similarly, petrol distributors have been adding ethanol and methanol to petroleum, and slowly car manufacturers have changed engines so they will run on these augmented fuels.

Now here's another thought - diesel engines were also NOT designed to run on neat vegetable oil, yet some are capable. If a diesel engine could run on a blend of vegetable oil and biodiesel, then you could say that 15 litres of vegetable oil will make 13 - 14 litres of useable biodiesel blend, and 1 -2 litres of glycerin, which, according to the story I linked to, will become 1 -2 litres of ethanol.

Negligible waste - now that is something to aim for!

The beautiful thing is, that we know that car engines, both petrol and diesel, are capable of running on these alternative and much cheaper and cleaner fuels, so put pressure on car manufacturers. The best way we can do that is by avoiding products with pansified petrol-only-sipping engines or fussy-fossil-diesel-thanks motors...

So pressure away - it will finally be YOU and YOUR CHOICES that determine the future of the world.

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