THE NEW HORIZON
WHAT IS BIO-DIESEL
Bio-diesel is an alternative fuel for diesel engines that is receiving great attention around the world. Although it attracts the most attention because it is renewable, it can be used either pure or in blends with diesel fuel in unmodified diesel engines, and it reduces some exhaust pollutants such as sulfur. Most states have mandates involving sulfur, which will be enacted into law in 2006. With a 2% blend of bio-diesel, diesel fuel will eliminate the sulfur contamination when burned.
Bio-diesel is defined as the mono-alkyl esters of fatty acids from vegetable oils or animal fats. In simple terms, bio-diesel is the product you get when a vegetable oil or animal fat is chemically reacted with an alcohol to produce a new compound that is known as a fatty acid alkyl ester. A catalyst such as sodium or potassium hydroxide is required. Glycerol is produced as a byproduct. The approximate proportions of the reaction are:
100 lbs of oil + 10 lbs of methanol = 100 lbs of bio-diesel + 10 lbs of glycerol
Soybean oil is the most popular feedstock in the United States. Soybeans are a major U.S. crop and government subsidies may be available to make the fuel economically attractive to consumers who need or want to use a no petroleum-based fuel. Bio-diesel from soybeans is occasionally called soydiesel, methyl soyate, or soy methyl esters (SME). In Europe, most bio-diesel is made from rapeseed oil and methanol and is known as rapeseed methyl esters (RPE). The University of Idaho has accomplished considerable work with rapeseed esters using ethanol, which produces rapeseed ethyl esters (REE). [See http://www.uidaho.edu/bae/bio-diesel/ ]
The properties of the bio-diesel fuel are determined by the amounts of each fatty acid used to produce the esters. Fatty acids are designated by two numbers: the first number denotes the total number of carbon atoms in the fatty acid and the second is the number of double bonds. For example, 18:1 designates oleic acid, which has 18 carbon atoms and one double bond. The table shows the fatty acid compositions of a number of common vegetable oils and animal fats. The names of the fatty acids given in Table 1-1 are as follows:
|14:0||Myristic Acid (tetradecanoic acid)|
|16:0||Palmitic Acid (hexadecanoic acid)|
|18:0||Stearic Acid (octadeacanoic acid)|
|20:0||Arachidic Acid (eicosanoic acid)|
Bio-diesel can also be made from other feedstocks:
- Other vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola (an edible variety of rapeseed) oil, cottonseed oil, mustard oil, palm oil, etc.
- Restaurant waste oils such as frying oils
- Animal fats such as beef tallow or pork lard and poultry fat
- Trap grease (from restaurant grease traps); float grease (from waste water treatment plants), etc.
Composition of Various Oils and Fats
Peterson, C.L., "Vegetable Oil as a Diesel Fuel: Status and Research Priorities," ASAE Transactions, V. 29, No. 5, Sep.-Oct. 1986, pp. 1413-1422.
Linstromberg, W.W., Organic Chemistry, Second Edition, D.C. heath and Company, Lexington, Mass., 1970.
|Oil or fat||14:0||16:0||18:0||18:1||18:2||18:3||20:0||20:1|
|Hi linoleic safflower||5.9||1.5||8.8||83.8|
|Hi Oleic Safflower||4.8||1.4||74.1||19.7|
|Hi Oleic Rapseed||4.3||1.3||59.9||21.1||13.2|
|Hi Erucic Rapseed||3.0||0.8||13.1||14.1||9.7||7.4||50.7|
*Typical analysis: listed in Tat, M.D. and J.H. Van gerpen, "Fuel Property Effects on bio-diesel," ASAE Paper 036034,
American Society of Agricultural Engineering Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, July 27-30, 2003
**the dominant fatty acid in tung oil is a conjugated isomer of linolenic acid called eleostearic acid. The three double bonds in eleostearic acid are located at 9:10, 11:12, and 13:14 instead of at 9:10, 12:13 and 15:16 as in linolenic acid.
HOW MUCH BIO-DIESEL CAN BE MADE?
Using the rough guideline that a pound of oil or fat will give a pound of bio-diesel, we can use the total production of fats and oils in the U.S. to estimate the impact of bio-diesel on total diesel consumption.
The following table shows the annual production figures for vegetable oils and animal fats.
Total Annual Production of US fats and Oils.
[from Pearl, G.G., "Animal Fat Potential for BioEnergy Use," BioEnergy 2002, The Tenth Biennial Bioenerby Conference, Boise, ID, Sept. 22-26, 2002]
Vegetable Oil Productioni (Billion pounds/yr)
|Total Veg. Oil||23.659||
Animal Fats/poultry fats (Billion pounds/yr)
|Lard & Grease||1.306|
|Total Animal Fat||11.638|
The Table below provides the total consumption of on-highway diesel fuel from 1996 to 2000.
Sales of On-highway Diesel Fuel
[Data from Energy Information Administration, www.eia.doe.gov]
|Year||Billion gallons/yr||(Billion pounds/yr)|
As can be seen, in the United States, soybean oil dominates the vegetable oil market comprising over 75% of the total vegetable oil volume. Animal fats total nearly 50% of the vegetable oil volume. The combined vegetable oil and animal production totals about 35.3 billion pounds per year. At approximately 7.6 pounds per gallon of oil, this production would equal 4.64 billion gallons of bio-diesel.
It should be noted that this total actually double counts some of the production since a portion of the vegetable oil production will be recycled as yellow grease.
It is obvious that bio-diesel is not going to completely replace petroleum-based diesel fuel in the near future. Even with the unrealistic scenario that all of the vegetable oil and animal fat were used to produce bio-diesel, we could only replace about 15% of the current demand for on-highway diesel fuel. So, why bother with bio-diesel?
There are five primary reasons for encouraging the development of bio-diesel in the United States.
- It provides a market for excess production of vegetable oils and animal fats. There is increasing demand around the world for soybean meal to provide the protein for human and animal consumption. If new markets are not found for the soybean oil, then the price will be low and farmers will have even more difficulty producing a profit. The animal by-products industry also has a problem with more supply than the current market can absorb.
This is compounded by the potential for even greater restrictions on the use of animal fats in animal feeds because of concerns about the spread of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Mad Cow Disease).
- It decreases the country's dependence on imported petroleum. Obviously, this reason should not be overemphasized since the percentage of the country's fuel supply that can be replaced with bio-diesel will be small. However, petroleum markets tend to be sensitive to small fluctuations in supply so an additional source of fuel can have a surprising impact on keeping fuel prices stable.
- Bio-diesel is renewable and contributes less to global warming than fossil fuels due to its closed carbon cycle. Because the primary feedstock for bio-diesel is biologically based oil or fat, which can be grown season after season, bio-diesel is renewable. And, since most of the carbon in the fuel was originally removed from the air by plants, there is very little net increase in carbon dioxide levels. However, some fossil carbon is contained in the methanol used to make methyl esters, and some fossil fuel is used during the production process. A life cycle study on bio-diesel used in an urban bus conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory  found that CO2 emissions were reduced by 79% for pure bio-diesel compared with petroleum diesel fuel. Again, this reason should not be overemphasized because bio-diesel does not have the potential to make a major impact on the total carbon dioxide production.
- The exhaust emissions from bio-diesel are lower than with regular diesel fuel. Bio-diesel provides substantial reductions in carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and particulate emissions from diesel engines. While the carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons from diesels are already very low compared with diesel engines, bio-diesel reduces them further. Particulate emissions, especially the black soot portion, are greatly reduced with bio-diesel. Unfortunately, most emissions tests have shown a slight increase in oxides of nitrogen (Nox) emissions with bio-diesel. This increase in Nox can be eliminated with a small adjustment to the engine's injection timing while still retaining a particulate decrease.
- Bio-diesel has excellent lubricating properties. Even when added to regular diesel fuel in an amount equal to 1% - 2%, it can convert fuel with poor lubricating properties, such as modern ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, into an acceptable fuel. The Bio-diesel Board, marketing representative projects a potential annual market of 700,000 gallons of bio-diesel, 2% blend in all diesel to meet the sulfur mandates.
These are the primary reasons for the growth in interest in bio-diesel.
1.Sheehan, J.,V.Camobreco, J. Duffield, M. Graboski, and H. Shapouri, Life Cycle Inventory of Bio-diesel and Petroleum Diesel for use in an Urban Bus," Reprint from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Office of Fuels Development and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Energy, NREL/SR 580-24089, May 1998.
HOW DOES BIO-DIESEL AFFECT THE QUALITY OF AIR?
Studies have shown that bio-diesel actually improves the quality of air in major cities. With bio-diesel, fewer toxins are released into the air. Because bio-diesel is diluted diesel, there is less crude oil exhaust shot into the sky. In addition, bio-diesel alleviates the smog problems in some major American cities like we have never seen before. Bio-diesel is a fairly natural product, utilizing vegetable oil, animal and poultry fats sunshine, water flow, and wind in order to produce an effective fuel. It reduces the amount of pollution autos, trucks, airplanes, trains and all marine craft emit into our atmosphere. Bio-diesel is a renewable, biodegradable, cleaner-burning fuel. Unlike other fuel additives such as diesel, bio-diesel poses no risk to water quality. In American cities that do not meet public health standards for levels of ozone and carbon monoxide (CO), the Clean Air Act requires that diesel include the addition of oxygenates, such as bio-diesel. Today, more than one-third of the nation's diesel contains some level of oxygenates to reduce harmful emissions and improve the Nation's air quality. Bio-diesel lowers carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by 30 percent, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 27 percent. According to a January 1998 study by the Argonne National Laboratory, vehicles that use bio-diesel actually offset fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions by 35-46 percent. The use of cleaner-burning bio-diesel reduces the amount of noxious fumes and volatile organic compounds that diesel spews into the air.
HOW DOES BIO-DIESEL AFFECT DIESEL PRICES?
The price of bio-diesel may be affected by the price of diesel, the price of soybeans, and the price of the labor and equipment used to mix the two substances. When the price of producing soybeans and bio-diesel is higher than the normal price of producing diesel, one will pay more for bio-diesel than for normal diesel. However, if the price of producing bio-diesel remains low, it can prove beneficial for motorists' pocketbooks when oil production is also low, as bio-diesel prices would be significantly less expensive.
In 1998 the agriculture industry won a major victory when Congress agreed to extend the bio-diesel tax incentive through 2007. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton, ensuring the continued growth of the industry through a tax break of 5.3 cents per gallon for 10% bio-diesel-blended fuel, with modest reductions every two years.
Bio-diesel reduces our nation's dependence on imported fuels by nearly 100,000 barrels daily.
One bushel of soybeans can produce 1.4 gallons of bio-diesel. One acre of soybeans can produce 70 gallons of bio-diesel, enough to fuel four pickups for one year with a 10% bio-diesel-blend.
All truck manufacturers warrant a ten percent bio-diesel blend for use. Bio-diesel guards against diesel line freeze by absorbing moisture that may get in the tank in cold weather. Bio-diesel is a proven octane enhancer and replacement for lead and other toxic compounds in diesel. Major manufacturers of engines, including automobiles, pickups, trucks, boats, trains and jet engines approve bio-diesel-blended fuels for use.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE?
The future of bio-diesel as a fuel is important to the United States. The transportation sector, today, depends heavily on petroleum. Replacing diesel and diesel fuel with bio-diesel fuel would greatly reduce U.S. vulnerability to disruptions or shortages in the supply of foreign petroleum. Bio-diesel production, also, decreases the federal budget and foreign trade deficits. Bio-diesel is America's only domestically produced, clean burning, renewable fuel. It is distilled primarily from soybeans, has a high octane rating and burns cooler than other fuels. The production of bio-diesel provides jobs for thousands of Americans. New markets for farmers are opened. The development and promotion of bio-diesel fuel has accounted for an increased market for more bushels of soybeans each year.
Bio-diesel also contributes to cleaner air. Many cities in the U.S. suffer from unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide and low-level ozone, or smog.
These problems cost billions of dollars annually in increased health care associated with respiratory and heart disease. Bio-diesel blends reduce these harmful pollutants emitted in the air. Increased bio-diesel usage will help the states meet the clean air mandates by reducing the sulfur in fossil fuels.
The plant will produce motor fuel grade bio-diesel and crude glycerin products including polymers.
- Bio-diesel - the primary product from this facility, will be motor fuel grade additive supplied primarily to the diesel blending market. Diesel fuel has the largest potential consumption and can be efficiently produced with the technology available for plants of this size. The plant will be designed to produce 30 million gallons per year. Bio-diesel fuel additive is a premium bio-diesel fuel made from 100% refined soybean oil, other oils, animal and poultry fat.
- Glycerol - a significant byproduct of the transesterification process that produces bio-diesel. It is also known as glycerin, glycerine and 1,2,3 propane trive. It will be produced by a bio-diesel plant at approximately 10% of the bio-diesel production level. This byproduct is often referred to as a high-value co-product, but suitable markets are asking for bio-diesel glycerol. Principal uses include:
- Food products
- Animal feed
Alternatives to bio-diesel in blended fuels are other additives that add oxygen or increase octane ratings in diesel. The primary competitors are other fuel additives, which are on the decline due to environmental regulations.
Approximately seventy five percent of the cost of bio-diesel is feedstock. To ensure COMPANY has ample feedstock available, COMPANY will obtain a substantial portion of its feedstock through contract agreements. The remainder of the feedstock will be purchased on the open market. To maintain a safety stock, COMPANY plans include storage capacity for one week of production.
Forward contracting feedstock in the futures market will minimize the negative ramifications of short-term significant price variations. An organization with expertise in commodity trading will be utilized to ensure an acceptable price for feedstock with minimal uncertainty.
Technology required for bio-diesel production is currently well defined. Advances in technology are being made that will result in more efficient operation and higher conversion rates of feedstock to bio-diesel. The plant will be built with the latest proven technology, and COMPANY will keep abreast of new technological developments and implement them where it is economically justified.
Equity Financial Resources, Inc. works, networks, and refers qualified, financially stable engineering companies and technology providers with proven experience in renewable energy projects.
Bio-diesel Advances - It is anticipated that advances in production processes will increase the bio-diesel yield realized from grain feedstock. These processes are not refined for commercial application at this time, but COMPANY anticipates adopting advances as they become available.
The production of bio-diesel from biomass feedstock is also anticipated to become more economically feasible in future years. COMPANY will look for options to benefit from those advances as well. In the interim, the processes planned for implementation by COMPANY are considered to be the most viable for the foreseeable future.
Additional Bio-diesel Products and Markets - Current research includes new applications of bio-products.
The future bio-diesel products are:
- Cure and seal curing agents
- Bio solvents
- Soy proteins
- Biodegradable dust
- Paint stripers
- Adhesives and composites - adhesives and bonding products - glue
- Paints, coatings, printing inks
- Lubricants, hydraulic fluids and fuel
- Bio-diesel research for energy, power and cleaner environment
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