What is biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages

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Currently, the vast majority of energy used comes mainly from fossil fuels, a highly polluting and non-renewable energy source. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate other less polluting and renewable sources of energy. However, these sources also have their downsides.

In this Green Ecology article we will focus on analyzing one of these sources: biodiesel. Read on and we'll go over what the biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages.

What is biodiesel and what is its origin?

It was in the 1890s when biodiesel began to be popularly known, with the invention of the diesel engine by German engineer Rudolf Diesel. The diesel engine had a number of advantages over the gasoline engine, one of which was its ability to work with a wide variety of sources, such as vegetable oil. In 1900 and during the Paris Exposition, a diesel engine that used peanut oil.

This fuel was later called biodiesel and is produced by a transesterification process. This process stimulates chemical reactions in vegetable oil (specially developed for this purpose or commercial waste) and turns it into fuel for these diesel engines. Other raw materials are palm oil, sunflower oil, canola, soy or even animal fats. Although, due to its high production costs, most of this fuel se produced from residual vegetable oil from restaurants, food manufacturing or fast food establishments. Today, developing crops for use as fuels is an industry with great potential, but the high cost of the transesterification process is the main drawback.

In recent years, the use of biodiesel has grown a lot, increasing from about 25 million gallons of biofuel in early 2000 to more than 2.8 billion in 2016. According to projections in the availability of feedstock, the industry has been marked as aim to produce up to 10% of the diesel transport market by 2022.

What is biodiesel for

Biodiesel has many possible uses, below we are going to explain what are the main uses of biodiesel:


Biodiesel represents a cleaner alternative to using oil as fuel, currently the majority. Other alternatives such as solar or wind energy are not practical to be used in transportation.

Power source

Biodiesel cells have applications in production of energy such as electricity. This electricity can be used in facilities such as schools, residential areas or hospitals.

According to scientists from the University of San Luis, it is possible to develop a fuel cell using cooking oil and sugar to produce electricity, which can be used to charge from computers to mobile phones.

Heat source

Biodiesel can also produce natural gas for heating home. Unlike using wood to heat your home, biodiesel can reduce nitrogen and sulfur dioxide emissions.

Clean up oil and grease spills

Biodiesel works as cleaning agent in areas where there is contamination of water by oil. It can also be used as an industrial solvent.

Replace fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are the predominant energy sources in the world today, but they are running out. The development of biodiesel would make it possible to replace these fuels with renewable sources.

What are the advantages of biodiesel

In the next section we explain what the main advantages of biodiesel:

  • Biofuels such as biodiesel are a renewable source of energyas the crops from which they are produced can be re-cultivated.
  • Furthermore, biodiesel and biofuels are neutral in their carbon emissions, since the carbon produced in their combustion is offset by the carbon absorbed by the crops that produce them.
  • Another advantage is that biodiesel is an energy source that does not depend on imports. foreign and global markets.
  • Biodiesel can be used in current diesel engines without carrying out significant mechanical modifications.
  • They are also combustible cleaner and more efficient than fossil fuels, since less hazardous waste is generated during its manufacture.

Disadvantages of biodiesel

One of the disadvantages of biodiesel is that the land used for these crops reduces the amount of land available for growing food. This fact represents a great concern in developing countries, where food must be produced to feed a growing population. Furthermore, these crops need large amounts of water and fertilizers, which could be used in food production.

Another concern is monoculture effect in balanced rural ecosystems. Large areas of monoculture can have a detrimental effect on local flora and fauna.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages, we recommend that you enter our category of Renewable Energies.

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