Biodiesel is an alternative clean-burning renewable fuel similar to conventional ‘fossil’ diesel. It is made using natural vegetable oils, animal oil/fats or bio-lipids, tallow and waste cooking oil. As it is biodegradable in nature, it is intended to be used as a replacement for fossil diesel fuel. It can also be mixed with petroleum diesel fuel in any proportion.

What is Transesterification?

It is the chemical process, which converts natural fats and oils into Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) or Biodiesel. Some of the major sources of suitable oil (to make biodiesel) come from crops like palm, soybean or rapeseed. High-quality biodiesel is made from rapeseed but nowadays most of the biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oils obtained from chips shops, restaurants, and industrial food producers.

Some Important Features of Biodiesel

Below are certain features of the fuel like:

1) Biodegradable and Renewable Fuel.

2) Safer to use and has low toxicity compared to fossil diesel fuel.

3) Lower exhaust emission rate than normal diesel fuel.

4) As per ASTM D 6751 quality parameters, the quality of diesel is analyzed.

5) Using biodiesel doesn’t require any diesel engine modification.

Benefits of Biodiesel

1) Biodiesel and Biodiesel blends are used in almost all diesel engines and vehicles.

2) It is a carbon neutral liquid, which means that combustion of biodiesel never produces the net output of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide like other mineral diesel.

3) In 2007, British Royal Train ran its train with 100% biodiesel fuel.

4) Used as a heating oil – In many commercial & domestic boilers, biodiesel is also used as heating fuel.

Biodiesel Production

As discussed above, biodiesel is produced from tallow, vegetable oil or animal fat, and waste oils. There are three stages of this transformation of oil and fats to biodiesel.

a) Transesterification of the oil in which is base catalyzed.

b) The direct acid catalyzed transesterification

c) Finally conversion of oil to fatty acid and then the formation of biodiesel.

For more detailed information about Biodiesel, visit Byju’s.

Practise This Question

Which vitamin gets destroyed during cooking?