Biodiesel

4/2/2009

Biodiesel:
Biodiesel is an alternative fuel used in diesel engines. Biodiesel, in its pure form, is not made from petroleum; instead, all or part of it is derived from plant oils or animal fats. In the United States, most commercial biodiesel is made from soybean oil, while in Europe, rapeseed (canola) oil is more commonly used. Biodiesel can be made from virgin oil, or from used cooking oil recycled from restaurants and food processing operations. It is also a renewable fuel; to make more, we just grow more of the crop needed. It can be produced domestically, displacing imported petroleum. Biodiesel should not be confused with straight vegetable oil, which is untreated oil that some people use as fuel in their modified diesel cars. Biodiesel is a more standardized product that can be used in most diesel engines without any modifications. Like conventional diesel fuel, biodiesel can only be used in diesel engines; today’s hybrids with their spark-ignition, gasoline engines cannot burn biodiesel.
A diesel vehicle uses an engine that has a different combustion cycle than a gasoline engine. In a diesel, air is drawn into the cylinder and compressed first without fuel present.
Diesel vehicles attain better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts. This fuel economy advantage is enhanced by the fact that a gallon of diesel fuel contains about 10 percent more energy than a gallon of gasoline.

Diesel Benefits
• Higher fuel economy
• Diesel engines last longer, and fetch higher resale values
• Diesel engines can be run on biofuel (biodiesel)
• Diesels provide greater torque; great for rapid acceleration and towing
• Driving range on a tank is longer

Diesel Drawbacks
• Diesel fuel is more expensive in the US (In Europe, it’s taxed less heavily.)
• Few models are available with a diesel engine
• Particulate matter and NOx emissions are higher
• Diesel vehicles are usually more expensive, although “clean diesel” carries purchase incentives
• Diesel availability is more limited; there are fewer diesel pumps

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