Problems with and Disadvantages of Biodiesel
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While biodiesel has its myriad advantages and benefits, there is a flip side as well. This section provides inputs on the various (perceived) disadvantages of biodiesel, as well as problems that have been reported while using biodiesel.
Did you know? The worldwide vegetable oil production is only a tiny fraction of the total petroleum used today
Some of the disadvantages of and problems with biodiesel are:
· It is currently more expensive (see also: Biodiesel – Performance, Costs & Use – from the Dept of Energy, Govt of USA)
· Disadvantages of using biodiesel produced from agricultural crops involve additional land use, as land area is taken up and various agricultural inputs with their environmental effects are inevitable. Switching to biodiesel on a large scale requires considerable use of our arable area. Even modest usages of biodiesel would consume almost all cropland in some countries in Europe! If the same thing is to happen all over the world, the impact on global food supply could be a major concern, and could make some countries being net importers of food products, from their current status of net exporters! It Could so happen that most lands on the planet are deployed to produce food for cars, not people! ( see also: Biodiesel & Deforestation, Amount of Biodiesel That Could be Produced from Available Land in the UK – An Estimate)
· It gives out more nitrogen oxide emissions (Nitrogen oxide emissions from biodiesel blends could possibly be reduced by blending with kerosene or Fischer-Tropsch diesel) (NOx & Biodiesel – Journey to Forever, Study Shows NOx Emissions Reduction in Biodiesel with Additives – PDF)
· Transportation & storage of biodiesel require special management. Some properties of biodiesel make it undesirable for use at high concentrations. For example, pure biodiesel doesn't flow well at low temperatures, which can cause problems for customers with outdoor storage tanks in colder climates. A related disadvantage is that biodiesel, because of its nature, can’t be transported in pipelines. It has to be transported by truck or rail, which increases the cost.
· Biodiesel is less suitable for use in low temperatures, than petrodiesel. The “cloud point” is the temperature at which a sample of the fuel starts to appear cloudy, indicating that wax crystals have begun to form. At even lower temperatures, the fuel becomes a gel that cannot be pumped. The “pour point” is the temperature below which the fuel will not flow. As the cloud and pour points for biodiesel are higher than those for petroleum diesel, the performance of biodiesel in cold conditions is markedly worse than that of petroleum diesel. At low temperatures, diesel fuel forms wax crystals, which can clog fuel lines and filters in a vehicle’s fuel system. Vehicles running on biodiesel blends may therefore exhibit more drivability problems at less severe winter temperatures than do vehicles running on petroleum diesel.
· Another disadvantage of biodiesel is that it tends to reduce fuel economy. Energy efficiency is the percentage of the fuel’s thermal energy that is delivered as engine output, and biodiesel has shown no significant effect on the energy efficiency of any test engine. The energy content per gallon of biodiesel is approximately 11 percent lower than that of petroleum diesel. Vehicles running on biodiesel are therefore expected to achieve about 10% fewer miles per gallon of fuel than petrodiesel.
· There have been a few concerns regarding biodiesel’s impact on engine durability
· Biodiesel has excellent solvent properties. Hence, any deposits in the filters and in the delivery systems may be dissolved by biodiesel and result in need for replacement of the filters. Petroleum diesel forms deposits in vehicular fuel systems, and because biodiesel can loosen those deposits, they can migrate and clog fuel lines and filters.
· The solvent property of biodiesel could also cause other fuel-system problems. Biodiesel may be incompatible with the seals used in the fuel systems of older vehicles and machinery, necessitating the replacement of those parts if biodiesel blends are used.
Did you know? Biodiesel solidifies at a higher temperature than that for petrodiesel
More Links on Biodiesel Disadvantages
Fun Facts - Biodiesel is a good solvent, and can dissolve rubber and certain plastics, remove paint, as well as oxidize some metals. Biodiesel has also been reported to destroy asphalt and concrete if these are exposed long enough to biodiesel!
Some interesting sites:
- Plant Oils Database – provides resources and links for over 200 different plant oils and related plant extracts
- BDPedia – The Biodiesel WWW Encyclopedia
- Reference on Energy & Alternative Energy – from Oilgae – Oil from Algae - Energy Industry Breakthroughs, Alternative Energy Portal
BDPedia.com, the Biodiesel WWW Encyclopedia, provides links, provides directory and web links resources for the biofuels, biodiesel. It is intended to be useful for research and information as well as for buyers, sellers, manufacturers, traders, suppliers, producers, exporters and importers. It will make an effort to provide biofuel feedstock, plant oil feedstocks, vegetable oil info and link, details on oilseeds, bio-fuel, bio-diesel, bio-fuels, plant oils production and uses, and biofuels trade & market resources, data, statistics such as price, prices, demand-supply for buyer, seller, manufacturer, trader, supplier, exporter and producer