Fuel is what keeps a lot of machines moving. Without it, cars wouldn’t be running, cooking on a stove would not be possible, and most likely, there would not be electricity to make lamps, televisions, and computers work. But since the fuel supply from Mother Earth does not appear to be enough until just a few centuries ahead, many people have informed the rest of the world that there are other sources of energy without having to exhaust all the fossil fuels of the earth. Aside from the sun giving solar energy and radioactive isotopes giving out nuclear energy, biofuels such as biodiesel is the next best thing when it comes to energy sources.
Biodiesel is produced from animal fat as well as plant and vegetable oils. These plants include algae, sunflower, canola, soybean, and jatropha.
Biodiesel is obtained through the process of transesterification. This process involves the chemical reaction of vegetable oil, in rare cases animal fat, and an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to form a product called fatty acid alkyl esters or biodiesel. The alcohols used in the process may be ethanol which would then produce ethyl esters or methanol which would produce methyl esters. The catalyst that is utilized is usually lye. Glycerin, also known as glycerol, is released as a byproduct of biodiesel transesterification. Glycerin is also a type of alcohol.
The process of biodiesel transesterification is a recent discovery known to make the vegetable oil less viscous. The viscosity of the vegetable oil is very important in making the biodiesel because this affects how the biodiesel would be used. Because the transesterfication process produces a biofuel with less viscosity, this biodiesel may be used for car engines, thus replacing petroleum diesel in a diesel-dependent vehicle.
Since most of the fossil fuels are used for cars, biodiesel manufactured through transesterification is just what the world needs right now and for many generations to come.