Most people can see that our current usage of fossil fuel produced diesel and gasoline, and oil recovered from wells bored deeper and deeper into the ground, can not go on. We have to change the way we use, or the way we produce, fuel. One option is to change from fossil oil to bio mass produced oil. From oil produced in this way we can produce bio-diesel.
Most bio material:
Oil can be made from most bio mass, not just cereal and other traditional oil producing crops like sunflowers. There are so many diverse sources that can be used. Many go someway to answering the main criticism of bio fuel, that is, it will take up valuable agricultural land needed for food production.
When the first diesel engine was produced by Rudolf Diesel in 1893 it was demonstrated running on peanut oil. It was never envisaged that it would be run on an oil made from crude oil. It only became the norm to use fossil fuel produced oils because they were cheaper than vegetable based ones. This is no longer the case. However peanuts are just one of the potential oil sources we can use.
Algae has a high oil content and it is easy to cultivate.One of the most exciting and innovative sources of this is using sewage treatment plants. Waste water treatment ponds at these plants make great algae ponds. This can be harvested and made into oil. The great thing about this is it is extremely cheap, and the land used for its production already exits.
Oil produced from corn can be used to make bio-diesel, but if it can also be fermented into alcohol to produce bio ethanol. This in-turn can be used as gasoline. Currently we produce a surplus of corn. However, as this method uses a food resource it is more controversial.
Rendered animal fat can be used to make bio-diesel. There are several problems that are unique to using this source however. It is effectively the first fuel that cannot be used by vegetarians, plus it produces an unpleasing smell when burned. Also due to the fact it solidifies at a higher temperature than most oils, it cannot be used in areas that have a low ambient temperature without being treated with additives.
Like animal fats, oil produced from fish can be used in the same way. It has similar disadvantages, being derived from an animal it is not suitable for vegetarians, but does have better low temperature performance.
Used cooking oil:
McDonalds in the UK are currently powering their delivery trucks from a bio-diesel. This is produced partly from the used oil from its restaurants. Used cooking oil is a great source of raw material for the home producer too. It can be a mix of many different oils, so you should test a sample from each batch for its low temperature performance before use.
there are hundreds of different types. Sunflower and Soybean oil are two of the best known. Bio-diesel plants in Europe mostly use Rapeseed. Tropical countries use oils that come from plants that grow in the their area, like Palm, and Coconut.
Used coffee grains:
Your morning latte could potentially power your car. It may seem improbable, but studies are taking place using bio-diesel produced from used coffee grains. It is said that if all the used coffee grains in the world were collected, and used in this way, it would provide 1% of the worlds diesel requirements.
Scientists in Russia are experimenting with an oil producing fungi. It is said that the amount of oil that can potentially be produced from this could be quite significant.
Plants that grow in salt water areas, or salt spray, like certain grasses and seaweed, can be used to produce oil. The great thing about this is that coastal areas are used, not prime agricultural land. Plus there are potentially many acres of production area available that are currently not used for any other purpose.
As you can see there are many sources of bio fuel, each have their own specific advantages and disadvantages. One interesting thing about fuel produced in this way is that you can make your own bio-diesel. With the right raw materials you can produce your own fuel and enjoy reduced motoring costs, and because bio fuel is kinder to the environment, guilt free motoring too.