The Column - February 2007 - (Page 14)

Grosser and Armstrong The Column February 2007 Biodiesel — The Alternative Fuel Zoe Grosser and David Armstrong, PerkinElmer Life & Analytical Sciences, Shelton, Connecticut, USA. As the world searches for new sources of fuel, the answer to the problem could possibly be found in every household kitchen. Wouldn’t it be convenient if we could use everyday cooking oil instead of gasoline to run our cars? It may sound absurd, but it is slowly becoming a reality. This article examines the potential of biodiesel as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels and how gas chromatography is used to assess the quality of the these products. A renewable and biodegradable fuel source called biodiesel, which can be made from vegetable oil, is rapidly gaining momentum around the world as an alternative fuel source for diesel engines. It is considered renewable, because it can be derived from plants, which produce oil from natural sunlight, water and air every year; and biodegradable, because unlike petroleum-based fuels, it breaks down into its natural components in the ground. Currently the industry is producing approximately 300 million gallons of biodiesel per year, but with the anticipated demand, additional manufacturing plants are being built, which will increase production by another 600 million gallons per year. Benefits of Biodiesel Over Fossil Fuels So what is commercially attractive about biodiesel, besides the fact that it is not a product of crude oil? Here is a list of the recognized benefits of biodiesel, all of which are well-documented in the public domain: • It requires about one third of the energy to produce 1 gallon of biodiesel compared with petroleum diesel. Author: Zoe Grosser and David Armstrong E-mail: • Biodiesel is extremely friendly to our environment, by reducing emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide compared with the amount sequestered during the growing process , hydrocarbons and other particulate matter that causes respiratory damage. • Another environmental attraction of biodiesel is that its sulphur content is less than 15 ppm, compared with 500 ppm for conventional S500 diesel fuel. This means that the emission of harmful sulphur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain, is significantly reduced. • It also eliminates the cloud of dense, black smoke normally associated with diesel vehicles — in fact the exhaust fumes from an engine running biodiesel smells like popcorn or French fries. • Biodiesel also has better lubricating properties than regular diesel fuel because of its higher viscosity. Its environmentally friendly image has captured the attention of politically active country and western singer W illie Nelson. While on a US concert tour in his luxurious touring bus last year, one of the trucks in Willie’s ensemble 14

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Column - February 2007

Market Trends and Analysis
Biodiesel - The Alternative Fuel
Biodiesel (FAME) Analysis by FT-IR
Tips and Tricks: GPC/SEC

The Column - February 2007