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Versatile Viscosity-Adapting Waste Oil Biodiesel for Diverse UK Applications

RSB provides sustainability solutions, certification, and business consulting to the food and biodiesel industries. Their primary collector is UCO in the Czech Republic with additional facilities in Slovakia and Poland. 

Filtration removes any remaining water before it can be converted to biodiesel (Animal Fat Methyl Ester or AFME). Increasing engine performance while simultaneously lowering emissions. In this article, I’ll explain how these oils make it into the fuel we’re using in various applications around the UK, today. 

Fuels 

Biodiesel is an eco-friendly, renewable alternative fuel made of vegetable oil or animal fat that can replace petroleum diesel in engines without modifications. By replacing fossil fuels with biodiesel, greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced. As dependency on foreign oil decreases and local resources become more available for use. Plant feedstock used in production captures carbon dioxide from photosynthesis. 

Burning biomass fuel releases this same carbon dioxide into the atmosphere before being taken up by trees and plants through photosynthesis again. It may even be compatible with diesel engines without modification requirements being necessary. All it needs are slight changes between engine modifications needed in most diesel engines in order to work on biodiesel! 

Production involves Tran’s esterified fatty acids with alcohol. This process can take many forms, from traditional batch processes, using heterogeneous catalysts, supercritical fluids or microwave systems. With FAMEs produced as the final product and glycerol produced as an additional by-product. It can be made using waste cooking oils and animal fats among others as its sources. 

Biodiesel provides cleaner-burning fuel than its fossil counterparts while also producing fewer harmful substances than fossil fuels do.

It does not contain sulfur, which contributes to air pollution and acid rain. Nor sulfur oxides which have been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory issues. In addition, it also provides lubrication benefits which extend injector and pump lifespan. 

Pure biodiesel may only have limited direct applications, yet supply logistics challenges exist for it. Because it acts as a solvent and degrades rubber fuel lines while loosening varnish or sediments from petroleum diesel tanks and pipelines containing varnish or sediment build-up that clog engine fuel filters. It gels at lower temperatures than petroleum diesel and requires special storage facilities and transport facilities for transportation purposes. 

Comparative to fossil fuels, biodiesel can significantly lower emissions such as hydrocarbons, particulates and carbon monoxide emissions. Its greenhouse gas potential (GHP) rating can also be lower. Though this value varies widely depending on feedstock used and production technology employed. Weather conditions, soil type or even how much biomass was added into production processes can all influence its GWP value. 

Biodiesel Technology 

Biodiesel is an environmentally-friendly alternative to petroleum diesel fuel. Produced from waste vegetable oils, animal fats and used cooking oil waste streams, it contains no sulfur compounds. But may contain small traces of impurities like phosphorus or nitrogen that could affect its performance. 

Biofuel production can be extremely energy intensive, so selecting the most energy- and cost-efficient technologies is of utmost importance. Microalgae as feedstock is especially appealing in the UK biofuel market as it can be grown using waste materials without replacing land that would have otherwise been dedicated for food production. Production efficiency can further be increased using co-solvent or solvent-free processes which reduce overall energy and water usage within its process. 

Supercritical non-catalytic transesterification, an innovative production technology that utilizes extreme temperatures and pressures to rapidly produce methyl esters at reduced costs than traditional methods. It can significantly lower production costs while still requiring significant investments in equipment and infrastructure. Recent advances in digital technology enable real-time monitoring of production processes for increased energy and water savings as well as optimized production results. 

Computer-aided process modeling provides an approach to designing an economically and environmentally sustainable production system. The resulting inventory of input/output flows can then be fed into Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). To identify environmental hot-spots and evaluate tradeoffs in terms of global warming potential, ozone depletion potential and acidification risks. For instance, LCA has been applied in comparisons of jatropha, microalgae and soybean-based biodiesel with conventional diesel in terms of these parameters. 

Biodiesel Applications 

Biodiesel differs significantly from petroleum diesel in that it’s made from organic material which can be replenished. Producing significantly fewer greenhouse gasses and having less of an effect on climate changes than conventional diesel. It also decreases air pollution which contributes to cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious disease outbreaks. 

Production uses animal fats, waste vegetable oil and waste cooking oil from food waste as raw material for production of fuel. Rapeseed or palm oil is often the material of choice when extracted through transesterification (source: https://www.biodieseleducation.org/Production/Canola.html). Once produced, its raw oil can then be refined. Producing an amber-yellow liquid with similar viscosity to petro diesel and mixed into existing diesel engines or fuel systems in various ratios for use as fuel. 

As a general rule, increasing the percentage of biodiesel in a blend will improve engine performance

However, its quality can differ depending on where it was produced; this is because different crops produce different fuel quality results; canola oil contains high percentages of unsaturated fats which tends to produce superior fuel than tropical oils like tallow and palm which contain more saturated fatty acids. 

Pure biodiesel does not possess the same cold weather properties and stability of petroleum diesel, and cannot therefore be stored or transported using traditional petroleum diesel tanks and pipelines. Instead, dedicated fuel tanks must be installed for storage before being shipped via train, ship or barge. 

Fuel has become an increasingly popular choice for vehicles. When blended with petrol in various ratios, it helps improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and provide a sustainable solution. Passenger cars have also seen increasing use of this renewable alternative due to its environmental advantages. 

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