Probably the first thing that occurs to you when you hear about biofuels is that it is a cheap fuel, made with homemade equipment and recycled materials that will end up fouling your engine and should not be considered at all. But, did you know that we have been using biofuels for years?
Biofuel is a type of fuel that is derived directly from natural resources and is produced through unadulterated biological processes such as anaerobic digestion and mulching. Compared to fossil fuels in which oil and coal are created using natural geological processes and are not sustainable, a long period of time is needed before their innate energy can be fully exploited, biofuels are renewable and do not pass millions of years before they can be used. Used as an energy source.
Having been biologically processed, biofuels can come in all states: solid, liquid and gas. Possibly the first biofuel that humanity has ever used is wood and the by-product of its combustion, charcoal. As civilization progresses, man was able to discover other materials that can also provide fuel such as whale oil, biogas, various oils of vegetable origin and the like. Over a period of time, biofuels were the main source of energy until the discovery of fossil fuels.
The discovery of fossil fuels as a source of energy led to a rapid development of infrastructure and technology, but the dependence on coal and oil does not mean that biofuels have been completely forgotten, using modern chemistry methods, biofuels have been improved and improved.
Types of biofuels
Biofuels come in all forms and their use depends on their consistency and ability to burn and produce energy. The most common types of biofuels are:
- Ethanol – This is the most common type of biofuel and is obtained through natural fermentation using enzymes in sugars and starches. Ethanol can be used to replace traditional fuels, but the downside is that it has a lower energy density and, therefore, it would need more volume to produce the same amount of energy as diesel and gasoline. It can be mixed with other types of oil to produce a fuel more respectful of the environment.
- Methanol – This occurs mainly from natural gas through anaerobic metabolism. This type of biofuels is highly toxic and is not suitable for consumption from now on. More research is being done to reduce its toxicity.
- Biogas – produced through the anaerobic digestion of organic material such as fecal matter, agricultural and food waste, biogas is a source of renewable energy and has a very low carbon footprint compared to other types of biofuels. This can come in solid state and gas with different applications.
- Bioeteres – With a relatively low energy density, bioethers can not be used as a fuel on their own, but have been widely used as oil enhancers, since they have less impact on the environment than lead-based enhancers.
- Vegetable oil – Commonly used for frying, vegetable oil at some stages of its life cycle can directly replace diesel as fuel for engines. More and more people are now reprocessing used vegetable oil to create a less viscous fuel than they place and drive with their cars.
- Biodiesel – This is produced from a wide variety of organic materials such as vegetable oil, seeds and even algae. Biodiesel has a much lower emission than mineral-based fuels and is the most common biofuel in Europe.
- Butanol – This is an alcohol produced naturally and has a high energy gain if it is processed correctly.
Uses and benefits of biofuels.
Recent improvements in the composition and production of biofuels have allowed it to be part of regular consumption and, unknowingly some, biofuels, such as ethanol, are added to the chemical mixture produced for gasoline and diesel. Biofuels help reduce the pollutants that result from the combustion of fossil-based fuels.
Some of the modern uses for biofuels include:
Transport – The recent development in biofuel technology has provided society with a renewable source of transportation fuel. Biodiesels, ethanol and vegetable oil are currently used in several countries to replace traditional fuel. Current trends have allowed biofuels to mix with mineral-based fuels to produce a more efficient compound that has a lower emission rate and also helps protect the engine.
Power – As with combustion engines, power plants also require petroleum-based fuels to work, but biofuels are slowly reducing our dependence on mineral-based products. Biogas, for example, is being taken advantage of by farms and other agricultural businesses to power their facilities, providing them with a way to dispose of their waste materials without adding to the waste management problems that the world is now experiencing.
Hot – Heating is an essential need for any home located north of the equator. As with motors, traditional heaters require fuel to run and heat a house and biofuels have almost taken over this particular field because of its lower cost. Biologically processed gas such as butanol and propanol are often used in heating systems. Some types of biofuels have also been used for cooking.
Discussing the benefits, here are some of the most popular:
Sustainable – The current impulse to search for and use renewable energy sources has focused on biofuels, since, unlike fossil fuels, they do not take long to produce and, provided their raw materials are available, they can always be manufactured. again. .
The variety of possible sources of raw material makes biofuels renewable and sustainable, and plant-based materials can be planted again and again, depending on the need, the plants can be exchanged for others if the demand is low and Plant-based materials not only provide biofuel materials, but also help clean the air also through photosynthesis.
Economic – Mineral-based fuels require transportation from the mining site to the processing plant and from the processing plant to the service stations. This does not include costs related to oil research and processing from crude oil. Biofuels can be processed in the same area in which they are obtained to reduce transport and operating costs. Biogas can be used in the same farm and biodiesel plants can be built close to the raw material plantations.
Biofuels are also cleaner than traditional fuels and this means that they can better preserve their engine, reducing the maintenance costs of their vehicles. Its adaptability to any type of engine also increases the profitability of biofuels.
Reduced dependence on fossil fuels. As you know, fossil fuels are extracted from the fossilized remains of plants and animals and, although it is claimed that the planet has a large reserve of fossil fuels that have not yet been extracted, this is not infinite and will dry sooner if the demand he does it. It does not decrease drastically. The addition of biologically processed fuels in the mix offers consumers an option and decreases society’s dependence on oil.
Favorable to the environment – It is widely accepted that biofuels are cleaner than mineral-based fuels, but in reality they process the same chemical, the hydrocarbon, and therefore produce almost the same amount of carbon emissions.
The advantage of biofuels lies in how it is made and transported. Sustainable sources mean that the same plot of land can be used again and again to produce the same amount of raw material, while an area exploited for fossil fuels can no longer be used for anything else. The topsoil is preserved in the production of biofuels, which means that it can be used for agriculture as needed.
Since biofuels can be obtained and processed in the same general area, transportation is no longer necessary, which reduces the carbon emissions generated during transport. This also reduces the chances of the fuel spilling accidentally into the surrounding areas. Biofuel spills are also easier to clean and have a significantly lower impact on the ecosystem.
The manufacture of biofuels also takes advantage of plants that are not normally used for human consumption, which encourages research efforts to look for other materials based on plants that can be used for biofuels. An ingenious side effect is that other uses (medicinal or otherwise) are also discovered, expanding current knowledge about the ecology of the Earth.
Preparing your own fuel
A big advantage of biofuels is that, in fact, you can do them in the comfort of your own home, well, maybe out of your house, a few hundred feet if possible. The materials and equipment you would need are readily available in your local stores, otherwise you can always find and order them online. The biodiesel that is easiest to produce and configure with a minimum equipment is biodiesel.
As discussed above, biodiesel is created using organic material mixed with a catalyst and enzymes. Homemade biodiesel is the product of vegetable oil that reacts with methanol and another catalytic compound, but it is not as simple as it seems. He would need the right tools to be able to use his biodiesel.
The first and most important thing you need to create biodiesel is a biodiesel reactor that you can order online or, if you want to be self-sufficient, you can build one. For the biodiesel reactor, you can use an old tank water heater, a pump and some plumbing valves, pipes and couplings. To secure the reactor, you will also need some adjustable straps and some power cables to power everything.
Assemble the reactor by connecting the tank tubes to the heater and make sure all joints and couplings are secure. Then you can test the system to detect leaks and other problem areas. This step is necessary as it will avoid any setback when you are already handling the actual biodiesel process.
For smaller batches of biodiesel, you can choose to use bottles of juice or empty 4-liter mineral water, a small stove, an old blender and some old pots instead of creating or buying a biodiesel reactor.
Some other equipment you would need are scales and other measuring instruments. Making your own biodiesel requires exact science and the ingredients must be carefully measured and weighed.
For your own safety, be sure to have several pairs of rubber gloves and safety glasses on hand. It will handle chemicals that could cause an adverse reaction if not handled with care.
The materials you would need to make your own biodiesel are vegetable oil as its main ingredient, methanol as a reaction compound and caustic soda or potassium hydroxide as a catalyst. Vegetable oil may be the direct product of the market, but save some money and use the used vegetable oil. You can make contacts with local restaurants and get your used oil, free or for a reasonable price.
Methanol is an alcohol-based industrial solvent and is sometimes used as an antifreeze, so much caution is required when handling this chemical. Caustic soda can be obtained from supermarkets and the one you must buy must have at least 99% purity. Always check the label to make sure you are getting the correct chemical. If caustic soda is not available, 100% bleach can be used.
However, a warning, providers may ask for proof of identification and a statement of purpose. Why? The chemicals just mentioned are also used for the manufacture of illegal substances and, especially if you are buying in bulk, will definitely arouse suspicion from the authorities.
Before starting to process your own biodiesel, take the following precautions to prevent injuries or adverse accidents from occurring. Remember that the chemicals you will handle are flammable and toxic.
- Wear the right clothes. When handling hazardous chemicals, it is recommended that you wear long-sleeved clothing, denim or pants made of thick material, chemical gloves, aprons and eye protection.
- Have running water in standby so you can easily clean up any chemical spill.
- Make sure there are no children or pets around to accidentally handle your preparations.
- Have a gas mask ready in case harmful fumes are produced as a result of mixing.
The procedures detailed below are for smaller batches of biodiesel that you can make in your kitchen or garage.
- Prepare your work area by cleaning up any mess and making sure the area is well ventilated to avoid suffocation.
- Measure about 5 grams of bleach and mix with 220 ml of methanol. Place the mixture in a glass or jug and stir until the lye or caustic soda dissolves. You can use a blender in this step, but make sure you do not use the blender again for any other purpose.
- The resulting solution is oxide methoxide, which is a highly potent compound. Put this aside.
- Measure approximately 1 liter of vegetable oil and pour it in a pan. If you are using used cooking oil, be sure to filter it first before pouring it into the pan.
- Heat the oil up to 130 degrees. This would cause the waste water to boil and turn into steam, leaving you with 100% oil. The vegetable oil used will take longer than the “fresh” vegetable oil, since it has gone through its first original frying and the liquid from which it has been cooked will have been mixed with the used oil.
- Once heated, pour the oil into a 4 liter juice bottle and mix the methanol oxide solution.
- Carefully seal the bottle and shake vigorously (approximately 5 minutes) to ensure consistency. Set aside.
- The liquid will settle after a few hours. The result will have the biodiesel in the upper part and the glycerin in the lower part. Leave the mixture alone for approximately 24 hours.
- There will be a dramatic change in color and the division between glycerin and biodiesel will be visible at this point.
- Pour the biodiesel into another 4-liter bottle and make sure none of the glycerin is poured into the new container.
- After transferring the biodiesel, you must wash and dry the mixture. This is done by adding warm distilled water to the biodiesel and slowly mixing the two together.
- The solution will be soapy and you need to filter the soapy part by turning the bottle and pouring the soapy part. You should repeat the process two or three times until all the soapy liquid has been poured.
- After washing the solution, you can let the biodiesel dry. You must make sure that the bottle is uncovered and that it is in a cool, dry place. It will take a couple of days before it is completely dry and ready for use.
When using a biodiesel reactor, the procedure varies a bit, since the reactor will do most of the work for you. You only need to filter the used vegetable oil before pouring it into your collection tank, which will then feed the oil to the biodiesel processor.
Prepare it and gas it!
The call to use renewable energy has never been greater and the recycling of used vegetable oil helps answer this call. Not only does it help eliminate wasted material, it also creates a sustainable energy source for daily consumption.
DO IT YOURSELF