Biodiesel, made from either waste fry oil or vegetable oil, shows excellent commercial promise as an alternative fuel to gasoline and oil.
One of the great challenges facing the current generation is finding alternatives for the dwindling resources of petroleum in the Earth. One energy source that shows promise is biodiesel.
Burning biodiesel releases fewer particulates than burning petrodiesel, and thus substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the reasons biodiesel is garnering national interest as an alternative energy source.
Burning biodiesel does emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but less than does petrodiesel. Furthermore, the feedstocks of biodiesel include soybeans, corn, algae, and other plants that in the course of their lifecycle pull carbon dioxide out of the air for an overall net reduction of carbon dioxide.
Biodiesel is often confused with vegetable oil, but the two fuels are distinctly different. Cars that run on vegetable oil must be specially adapted for the fuel and often encounter difficulties with the vegetable oil solidifying in cold weather. In contrast, current biodiesel blends can be used directly in diesel cars with little or no adaptation.
The feedstocks for biodiesel include not only waste fry oil, but also numerous vegetable oils such as sunflower, flax, hemp, rapeseed, and palm oil as well as animal fats. These oils are subjected to a conversion reaction called transesterification. The resulting biodiesel has combustion properties extremely similar to those of traditional petrodiesel, and blends of the two fuels are commonly used. B100 refers to 100% biodiesel; the most common blends are B20, which is 20% biodiesel and 80% petrodiesel, and B5, which contains 5% biodiesel mixed with 95% petrodiesel. Biodiesel must meet strict industry standards to ensure proper performance and is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before sale and distribution as a motor fuel. Additionally, biodiesel blends up to B20 have also found application as a substitute to home heating oil.
More information can be found at http://www.biodiesel.org/resources/biodiesel_basics/