Renewable Energy: Biodiesiel Essay

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Fuels have dominated the way the world operates for decades; with a rising demand for fuel becoming constantly more predominant. Their uses are vast, making them versatile and in high demand around the world. But since most common fuels like diesel and petrol are fossil fuels, the availability of such fuels is decreasing rapidly. Hence alternatives to these fuels are being developed and used worldwide. These alternatives include biofuels. Biofuels are defined as “a hydrocarbon that is made BY or FROM a living organism that we humans can use to power something.” (biofuel.org.uk, 2010) Most biofuels are made using forms of biomass, including algae, sugar cane, seeds, oil, fats etc. (biofuel.org.uk, 2010) Biodiesel is a biofuel alternative to traditional diesel – a fuel made using crude oil (fossil fuel). (biofuel.org.uk, 2010) Hence posing the question: Is biodiesel or diesel the optimal fuel source?
Biodiesel is created through a process known as transesterification. (Biofuels Association of Australia, 2013)This process leads to the formation of esters (biodiesel) and glycerol, by reacting a triglyceride which is made up of fats/oils with alcohol. When the triglyceride is reacted with the alcohol, an alkaline solution is commonly used as a catalyst. Methanol or ethanol are the most common alcohols used in this reaction, creating methyl esters or ethyl esters respectively.(esru, 2014) The diesel and biodiesel used for this investigation are C12H26 and C17H34O2 respectively.…

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