Is Biodiesel a Viable Alternative To Diesel From Fossil Fuels For Trucks And Buses?

Essay by phoenix123College, UndergraduateA, July 2007

download word file, 4 pages 3.5

1.0 IntroductionBiodiesel is defined as mono-alky esters of long -chain fatty acid. It is a fuel that derived from the vegetable oils, animal fats, which is similar to the diesel fuel except that it is made from the crops. It is produced from domestically grown, renewable sources, such as crop oils or animal fats which are then chemically converted into biodiesel (Habmigren, 2003). Unlike diesel, biodiesel contains no petroleum products and free of sulfur compounds and aromatics (Habmigren, 2003). Until today, it is still the only alternative fuel for motor vehicle. The biodiesel blends have ranged from 2/98% (B2), 20/80% (B20), to 100% (B100) (Hafman, 2003). The reasons biodiesel is a viable alternative to diesel from fossil fuels for trucks and buses are it can reduce the pollution, it can enhance the country's economy, and it is renewable sources and can produce almost same energy as diesel fuels.

2.0 Chemical BackgroundBiodiesel comprises long-chain fatty acids with an alcohol attached on it and produced through the reaction of a vegetable oil with alcohol in the presence of the catalyst, such as potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide called transesterification (Hafman, 2003). The catalyst used to hydrolysis the triglyceride, and alcohols combine with the fatty acid to produce biodiesel (Gorham, 2006). After a complete reaction, the glycerol and ester form two liquid layers and catalyst is removed for reuse.

(Vegetable oil) + (Alcohol) → (Glycerol) +(Methyl Ester)On the other hand, diesel is made from the petroleum which takes millions of years to form under the earth. Thus, it is a kind of nonrenewable energy source. Same as diesel fuels, biodiesel can generate the engine through combustion process. The cloud point of biodiesel is 13°C whereas the cloud point of diesel fuels is -15°C (Hafman, 2003). Both biodiesel and diesel fuel are liquid...