Biodiesel Use In The Auto Industry
Interest in biodiesel has grown significantly of late due to the rise in use of diesel cars, the increase in the cost of standard fuels and the fact that low percentage biodiesel blends can be used instead of mineral diesel with no need for engine modification in a large number of diesel engines. Using the correct fuel specification a lot of diesel engines can run more smoothly on biodiesel than standard diesel.
There are however some practical issues regarding the use of pure biodiesel blends. Ester-based biodiesel degrades rubber parts but as a solution, engine components and equipment with rubber seals and pipes can be replaced with non-rubber alternatives. Another issues due to the viscosity of biofuel is that it can block fuel lines, fuel filters and fuel injectors when cold. This can also be overcome though by using a heated fuel filter.
Some car manufacturers have built new models which run on biodiesel, they address the previously mentioned problems. However, many standard diesel cars can operate using a biodiesel blend of up to 20% with no need for modification and no effetc on performance.
Biodiesel has the potential to be carbon-neutral on a life cycle basis, where all the CO2 produced during use of the fuel is balanced out by the absorption from the atmosphere during the growth of the fuel crop. In practice though, growing the crop requires the input of some fossil fuels for fertilisers, harvesting, processing and fuel distribution.
Biodiesel studies have shown that life cycle greenhouse gas emissions can be lowered by up to 60%. However, if waste oils are used a much larger reduction is possible because the source material would have been thrown away meaning there was in effect no environmental cost to production.
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