Bio-Diesel – an ECO-Friendly Fuel for India

Biodiesel de soja (B100); Soybean Biodiesel (B100)

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By Tarit Mukherjee

New Delhi, July 5, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) As our lifestyles become more 'developed' by the day, so does the damage we do to the environment. Our every move, from watching television, to working at a computer, to taking a flight to our favourite holiday destination harms the environment in one way or the other. Air and water pollution levels are increasing world over by the day. Never before has the need to use alternative resources, such as wind, solar and nuclear energy been so high.

India is one of the largest petroleum consuming and importing countries. India imports about 70 % of its petroleum demands. The current yearly consumption of diesel oil in India is approximately 40 million tones constituting about 40% of the total petro-product consumption. Bio-diesel can be the major replacement in terms of petro-product consumption by India which is eco-friendly too.

Bio-diesel is a clean burning, eco-friendly natural fuel obtained from tree born oil by a chemical transformation process called “Transesterification” carried out in a chemical processing plant. Transesterification is an age old chemical process and is a time tested method of transforming vegetable oils or fats into bio-diesel.

Bio-diesel is a bio-fuel produced from various feedstock’s’ including vegetable oils (such as oilseed, rapeseed and Soya bean), animal fats or algae. Bio-diesel can be blended with diesel for use in diesel engine vehicles. Bio-fuel – The term bio-fuel applies to any solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel produced from organic (once-living) matter. The word bio-fuel covers a wide range of products, some of which are commercially available today, and some of which are still in research and development. Bio-diesel is a fuel made from plant oils that can be used in a conventional diesel engine.

Bio-diesel, derived from the oils and fats of plants like sunflower, rape seeds, Canola or Jatropha (Bhagveranda) can be used as a substitute or an additive to diesel. As an alternative fuel bio-diesel can provide power similar to conventional diesel fuel and thus can be used in diesel engines. Bio-diesel is a renewable liquid fuel that can be produced locally thus helping reduce the country’s dependence on imported crude petroleum diesel.

Bio-diesel is a safe alternative fuel to replace traditional petroleum diesel. It has high-lubricity, is a clean-burning fuel and can be a fuel component for use in existing, unmodified diesel engines. This means that no retrofits are necessary when using bio-diesel fuel in any diesel powered combustion engine. It is the only alternative fuel that offers such convenience. Bio-diesel acts like petroleum diesel, but produces less air pollution, comes from renewable sources, is biodegradable and is safer for the environment. Producing bio-diesel fuels can help create local economic revitalization and local environmental benefits. Many groups interested in promoting the use of bio-diesel already exist at the local, state and national level.

Bio-diesel is not harmful to the environment. A vehicle tends to pollute the environment and emits harmful gasses, if injected with HSD whereas if the engine is using bio-diesel it emits no harmful gasses rather keeps the environment pollution free. Bio-diesel may not require an engine modification. Bio-diesel can be blended with diesel so as to improve the efficiency of the engine without any hassles. Bio-diesel is cheap. Any Vehicle using Bio-diesel has very low idle starting noise. It is noted that bio-diesel has a Cetane number of over 100. Cetane number is used to measure the quality of the fuel’s ignition. Bio-diesel is cost effective because it is produced locally.

As it is easy to use, bio-diesel can be used in existing engines, vehicles and infrastructure with practically no changes. Bio-diesel can be pumped, stored and burned just like petroleum diesel fuel, and can be used pure, or in blends with petroleum diesel fuel in any proportion. Power and fuel economy using bio-diesel is practically identical to petroleum diesel fuel, and year round operation can be achieved by blending with diesel fuel.

Bio-diesel provides significantly reduced emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, and sulfates compared to petroleum diesel fuel. Additionally, bio-diesel reduces emissions of carcinogenic compounds by as much as 85% compared with petro-diesel. When blended with petroleum diesel fuel, these emissions reductions are generally directly proportional to the amount of bio-diesel in the blend.

The existence of low volatility nature of bio-diesel, makes it easier and safe to handle than petroleum. The danger of accidental ignition increases when the fuel is being stored, transported, or transferred because of high energy content in all liquid fuels. The possibility of having an accidental ignition is related to the temperature at which the fuel will create enough vapors to ignite, known as the flash point temperature. The lower the flash point of a fuel is, the lower the temperature at which the fuel can form a combustible mixture. Bio-diesel has a flash point of over 26600F, meaning it cannot form a combustible mixture until it is heated well above the boiling point of water.

The resources that are used to produce Bio-diesel are locally available. The in-house production of Bio-diesel provides host of economic benefits for the local communities. Therefore, bio-diesel is a safe alternative fuel to replace traditional petroleum diesel.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB or WBRi.

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