Biodiesel refers to a diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources like vegetable oil or animal fats. Biodiesel, also known as “fatty acid methyl esters” is derived from triacylglycerols by transesterification with short chain alcohols. Biodiesel is a renewable, sustainable, biodegradable and non-toxic fuel that has been hailed as one of the biggest breakthroughs in the Oil and Fats industry. Biodiesel burns cleanly, that is “burning without smoke” and contains very little sulphur as compared to Petroleum Diesel, and therefore reduces air pollution when burnt.
Virtually no modifications are needed for car engine with a blending up to 20% with petroleum. i.e. is a “plug – and – play” fuel.
Besides transportation, it can also be used for other diesel powered equipments in the Marine and Agricultural segments, Power Generation and Heating.
Biodiesel emits about two-thirds less in unburned hydrocarbons and almost half as much carbon monoxide and particulate matter as conventional fuel.
From the point of view of global warming, it is neutral in its net addition to greenhouse gases because the carbon dioxide released in combustion was previously absorbed from the atmosphere during the photosynthesis process when growing the crop.
acceptance and demand
Biodiesel is already widely used throughout the world. Germany is the leader in both production and usage.
- EU Biodiesel Board reported 2 million tonnes produced in EU in 2004 and projected demand of 12 million tonnes by 2010.
- EU Commission Directives set target to use 5.75% of renewable fuel for transportation 2010. The target has been 2% since 2005.
- Many states in USA already have legislations and programs in place to reduce the reliance of fossil fuel. USA has set goal to consume 35 billion gallons (120 million tonnes) by 2017, up from 5 billion gallons in 2007. USA Government is subsidizing US$1 per gallon of Biodiesel (US$296/tonne).
- Japan is already blending upto 3% Biofuel in 2006.
- Singapore Shell Oil Company has announced a trial run of 5% blending of Biodiesel in 2007.
- Indonesia is targeting a 10% domestic usage of Biofuels by year 2010.
- Philippines has signed into law in Jan 2007, a mandatory biofuels standard to blend 1% Biodiesel by April 2007 and to be increased to 2% by April 2009.
- Thailand has revised consumption target in Jan 2007 of 500,000 liters per day (160,000 tonnes per annum) and increasing it to 4 million liters per day (1.3 million tonnes per annum) by end of year 2011 resulting in an offset as much as 7% of fossil diesel fuel consumption. More than 300 service stations for biodiesel distribution will be established countrywide for this purpose.
- China has implemented in 2006 various Government Subsidies to encourage the production of Bioethanol. It is expected Government Subsidies for the production of Biodiesel will be implemented at year end of 2007.
- South Korean Government has mandated that all petroleum-based diesel must be blended 5% biodiesel eventually. This translates to 1 million tonnes of biodiesel per year, compared with current production of less than 100,000 tonnes.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced in Feb 2007 that a Biofuel Sales Obligation will be set at 3.4% of the annual gasoline and diesel sales by 2012. This is equivalent to about 221 million liters of Biofuel (192,000 tonnes per annum).
- Following the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, legislations are being put in place in participating countries to limit and reduce the emission of the harmful Green House Gases. Use of Biodiesel is one part of the recommendation.
- The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC), attended by more than 2,000 Policymakers in the World in Bangkok-Thailand in May 2007 has recommended “modern bioenergy would contribute substantially to the share of renewable energy in the mitigation portfolio”. The IPCC has also recommended Biofuel Blending as “Mandatory fuel economy Policies” and “as measures and instruments shown to be environmentally effective” against Global Warming.
- Malaysia is to enforce mandatory blending of Biodiesel with conventional petroleum products within a year, as announced by the Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Peter Chin in July 2007. The blending programme will include a government subsidy to make biodiesel viable.
strategy for fleet management
Biodiesel is the best choice for fleet management when compared
to other alternative fuel as it is compliant with regulatory
policies in most major market and do not require engine modifications
and can be blended in any amount with petroleum diesel.
With biodiesel, since the same engines
can run on conventional petroleum diesel, manufacturer will
comfortably produce diesel vehicles before biodiesel is widely
available. As biodiesel production continues to ramp up, it
can go directly into the existing infrastructure replacing
petroleum diesel either wholly or blended in with diesel.
The huge cost of revamping the nationwide fuel distribution
infrastructure is thus avoided.
Biodiesel has been demonstrated to have significant environmental
benefits in reducing harmful Greenhouse Gases thus slowing
Biodiesel reduces emission of:
carbon dioxide 78%
carbon monoxide 50%
aromatic hydrocarbons 50% -70%
particulate of 10 micro 50%
almost no sulfur
biodegradable and non-toxic
Most of the biodiesel today are produced
from vegetable oil :
-rapeseed used mainly in Europe
-soybean used mainly in USA
-palm oil used mainly in SE Asia
Animal fats (tallow) are used in Australia and waste oil in
Jatropha curcas a non-edible oil is recently
propagated in India, Africa and other Asia countries for the
production of biodiesel.
Algae has shown very good potential with very high yield content
and yield per hectare and fast growth rate. More research
are now being carried out to develop it as the feedstock for
commercial production of biodiesel.
Biodiesel is most commonly produced by
a chemical process know as Transesterification.
Chemically, biodiesel is fatty acid methyl ester. The feedstock
(vegetable oil or animal fat) and methanol are combined in
a reactor in the presence of a catalyst (usually potassium
hydroxide or sodium hydroxide) to form methyl ester (biodiesel)
and glycerin (co-product).
The final product will be purified through various processes
like separation, clean, wash and dry .
An environmentally friendly biological process using enzyme
may be also used to produce biodiesel.