Cultivating alternative fuels: Why Biodiesel is becoming a viable alternative to diesel fuel

The diesel engine has long been the number one choice for power, reliability and high fuel economy worldwide. However, as petroleum becomes ever more expensive, the challenge has been to find a sustainable way to continue running these engines without relying on diminishing petrol supplies.

Enter biodiesel. Created from vegetable oils, biodiesel is intended to be used as a replacement for petroleum diesel fuel. But contrary to popular belief, biodiesel is not a new invention. In fact, the very same man who invented the diesel engine in the 1890s, Rudolph Diesel, also experimented with vegetable oil fuels. He envisioned that pure vegetable oils could power early diesel engines for agriculture in remote areas of the world, where petroleum was not available at the time.

It’s funny then, that this is fast becoming a reality. Biodiesel is now a key player in the alternative fuels market and could do much to reduce our reliance on oil.

What is biodiesel?

Let’s get one thing straight – biodiesel is not vegetable oil.

Biodiesel is a clean burning renewable alternative fuel created from vegetable oils, animal fats, and greases through a chemical process. The chemical process involves a reaction of natural oils with an alcohol. This mixture is then refined to create molecules which can be easily burned in a diesel engine.

Can biodiesel fuel be used in any diesel engine?

Yes. Even a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel will significantly reduce carcinogenic emissions and gases that can contribute to global warming. At www.mygenerator.com.au we have a 6.5kVA Generator designed to run on biodiesel. Check it out.

6.5kVA Biodiesel Generator
6.5kVA Biodiesel Generator

What are the advantages of biodiesel?

  • Biodiesel does not require modifications to a diesel engine before it can be used. IN fact, biodiesel is the only alternative fuel for heavyweight vehicles that does not require any special injection or storage modifications.
  • Biodiesel and diesel fuel can be used interchangeably as well as blended.
  • Biodiesel has reduced exhaust emissions compared to petroleum diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel has lower toxicity compared to petroleum diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel is safer to handle compared to petroleum diesel fuel.
  • Studies show biodiesel can actually extend the life of engines thanks to its superior lubricating properties that reduce the wear of vital engine parts.
  • Biodiesel is biodegradable.
  • Glycerin is the byproduct of the biodiesel production process, and can be used in personal care products or a variety of chemical applications.

What are the disadvantages of biodiesel?

Unfortunately, as with all fuel alternatives, there are a number of limitations preventing the widespread use of biodiesel fuel. The main limitation is consumer and manufacturer confidence. People still don’t trust biodiesel fuel as a viable alternative to run their engines. That’s because the early technical problems – winter operability, filter clogging, and the degradation of other rubber engine components – were widely publicised. What’s more, the industry needs to overcome the costs and availability of supplying biodiesel fuel to appropriate markets.

Biodiesel Station
Biodiesel Station

What about Power Generators? Would they benefit from biodiesel fuel?

Yes, it’s thought so. The power generator industry could always benefit from the development of a more environmentally friendly and economically efficient fuel. Especially because Diesel Generators are commonly used as a prime power supply in remote locations where connecting to a power grid is not readily available and diesel fuel may be in short supply – such as oil and gas rigs, and mining sites.

One of the advantages of biodiesel fuel is the enhanced lubrication properties that can keep engines running for longer without maintenance. This would be a great advantage for Generators, which are often required to run continually for hours.

Biodiesel A Cleaner Alternative Fuel
Biodiesel A Cleaner Alternative Fuel

If you have any experience with biodiesel fuels, we’d love to hear your thoughts! For more information on Diesel Generators, contact My Generator.

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

Sean Connolly

Sean is the co-founder and Director of My Generator (mygenerator.com.au) with a keen in interest in the outdoors and power products.

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