Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources that can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. It contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics, and can be blended with regular diesel fuel in almost any proportion.
Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products — methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and other products).
Researchers and innovators have long recognized the potential of algae to help provide commercial quantities of biodiesel. In fact, the primary focus of researchers in the Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program in the 1980s and early 1990s was on producing biodiesel from algae. (To learn more about the history of research into algae-based fuels, click here.)
Algae are a logical source from which to make biodiesel, as the oil found inside algal cells is similar to other vegetable oils like rapeseed, soy, and canola, and can easily be transformed into biodiesel.
A comprehensive resource for information on biodiesel is the National Biodiesel Board and its website, www.biodiesel.org.
Why is FexEx Express interested in algae-based fuels?
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