It’s widely known that some forms of transport are greener than others. However in reality it’s the gas guzzling, carbon emitting car that remains – for most of us – the transportation of choice. More of us own a car than ever before, despite the rise in petrol prices and growing environmental concerns. But there is a way of minimising the damage car fumes do to the environment and cutting the amount of CO2 emitted during car travel – biodiesel. Biodiesel is a more environmentally friendly and readily available alternative to diesel and petrol that could be the answer to cleaner and greener driving. Here we look at what biodiesel’s all about, how it’s a greener form of fuel and if it might just be the green fuel of the future.
Biodiesel – the Facts
So what exactly is biodiesel, and what makes it better for the environment than regular petrol? The answer lies in where the fuel comes from, which, basically, can be from any number of natural and recycled materials. It can be manufactured from algae, vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled grease or cooking oil. Because it is from a renewable source, biodiesel is readily available, can be made on a local level and won’t run out – unlike our dwindling petrol and oil supplies, which continue to rise in price.
How It’s Used
You can use biodiesel on its own as a clean fuel. It’s biodegradable, non-toxic and emits less than half of the CO2 into the atmosphere as petrol. Alternatively it can be mixed in with regular petroleum, usually 20% biodiesel to 80% petroleum. This hybrid fuel isn’t as green as pure biodiesel, but is more widely available and can be compatible with your regular diesel car without any modifications needed to your engine – and you’ll still be reducing your emissions overall.
Which Cars Can Use Biodiesel?
You should always check with a professional or your car manufacturers before switching to biodiesel. Some diesel engines with hybrid biodiesel / diesel fuel can switch without problems, but others may need some changes made to the engine in order to make it work to optimum efficiency. The pure form of biodiesel fuel will usually require engine modifications to ensure that the vehicle works safely and effectively.
Please note that biodiesel cannot be used to replace petrol in petroleum run cars.
Price and Availability
The cost of manufacturing biodiesel is more expensive than other forms of petrol at the moment, which is unfortunately reflected in the price, so you should be prepared to pay a more premium price while it’s less widely manufactured. More and more petrol stations in the UK are beginning to stock biodiesel; however you should be aware not all stations do. Planning your journeys in advance including the places you’ll be able to fill up is absolutely essential to avoid getting caught short.
The Future for Biodiesel
Even though the ability to create biodiesel has been widely known since the 19th century, it’s been relatively slow on the up-take. However it’s widely thought that biodiesel will become more and more viable as an alternative in the future, meaning the cost will also come down. The key lies with the car manufacturers, on whom depends the technology needed to bring biodiesel cars into the mainstream.