Biodiesel is an alternative to conventional diesel fuel made from renewable resources, such as non-edible vegetable oils. The oil from seeds (e.g., Jatropha and Pongamia) can be converted to a fuel commonly referred to as "Biodiesel." No engine modifications are required to use biodiesel in place of petroleum-based diesel. Biodiesel can be mixed with petroleum-based diesel in any proportion. This interest is based on a number of properties of biodiesel including the fact that it is produced from a renewable domestic source, its biodegradability, and its potential to reduce exhaust emissions. The climate change is presently an important element of energy use and development. Biodiesel is considered "climate neutral" because all of the carbon dioxide released during consumption had been sequestered out of the atmosphere during crop growth. The use of biodiesel resulted in lower emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.
Biodiesel also increased catalytic converter efficiency in reducing particulate emissions. Chemical characterization also revealed lower levels of some toxic and reactive hydrocarbon species when biodiesel fuels were used. The fuel consumption in the world particularly in developing countries has been growing at alarming rate. Petroleum prices approaching record highs and they will deplete within few decades, it is clear that more can be done to utilize domestic non-edible oils while enhancing our energy security. The economic benefits include support to the agriculture sector, tremendous employment opportunities in plantation and processing. Jatropha and Pongamia are known just crude plants which grow on eroded soils and require a hot climate and hardly any water to survive. These are the strong reasons, enforcing the development of biodiesel plants.
The majority of the alkyl esters produced today are done with the base catalyzed reaction because it is the most economic for several reasons.
- Low temperature (150F) and pressure (20psi) processing.
- High conversion (98%) with minimal side reactions and reaction time.
- Direct conversion to methyl ester with no intermediate steps.
Biodiesel is safe to handle because it is biodegradable and non-toxic. Biodiesel reduces all the emission. Biodiesel can be used alone or mixed in any amount with petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. No engine modifications are necessary to use biodiesel and there is no “engine conversion”. Increased utilization of renewable biofuels results in significant microeconomic benefits to both the urban and rural sectors, and the balance of trade. It is clear that more can be done to utilize domestic surpluses of vegetable oils while enhancing our energy security. Because biodiesel can be manufactured using existing industrial production capacity, and used with conventional equipment, it provides substantial opportunity for immediately addressing our energy security issues.