Biodiesel: Technology & Business Opportunities – An Insight S Biswas, N Kaushik & G Srikanth Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi – 110 016 Tel: +91-11 -2686 3816, Fax: 2696 1158, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org The concept of bio fuel dates back to 1885 when Dr. Rudolf Diesel built the first diesel engine with the full intention of running it on vegetative source. In 1912 he observed, " … the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may in the course of time become as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of present time." In 1970, scientists discovered that the viscosity of vegetable oils could be reduced by a simple chemical process and that it could perform as diesel fuel in modern engine. Since then the technical developments have come a long way and the plant oil today has been highly established as bio fuel, equivalent to diesel. Recent environmental (e.g. Kyoto Protocol) and economic concerns have prompted resurgence in the use of biodiesel throughout the world. In 1991, the European Community proposed a 90% tax reduction for the use of bio fuels, including biodiesel. Today 21 countries worldwide produce biodiesel. India is one of the largest petroleum consuming and importing countries. India imports about 70 % of its petroleum demands. The current yearly consumption of diesel oil in India is approximately 40 million tones constituting about 40% of the total petro-product consumption. 2.0 Why Biodiesel? Biodiesel, derived from the oils and fats of plants like sunflower, rape seeds, Canola or Jatropha Curcas, can be used as a substitute or an additive to diesel. As an alternative fuel biodiesel can provide power similar to conventional diesel fuel and thus can be used in diesel engines. Biodiesel is a renewable liquid fuel that can be produced locally thus helping reduce the country’s dependence on imported crude. 2.1 The advantages of biodiesel are enumerated hereunder : Biodiesel is non toxic & environmental friendly as it produces substantially less carbon monoxide and 100% less sulfur dioxide emissions with no unburnt hydrocarbons and thus it is ideal fuel for heavily polluted cities. Biodiesel reduces serious air pollutants such as particulates and air toxicity. Due to its less polluting combustion, biodiesel provides a 90% reduction in cancer risks and neonatal defects. Biodiesel is biodegradable and renewable by nature. Biodiesel can be used alone or mixed in any ratio with conventional diesel. The preferred ratio of mixture ranges between 5 and 20%
Biodiesel extends the life of diesel engines. Biodiesel could be cheaper than conventional diesel. Biodiesel has good potential for rural employment generation. 3.0 Biodiesel : Common Plant Sources Under Indian conditions such plants varieties, which are non-edible and which can be grown abundantly in large-scale on wastelands, can be considered for biodiesel production. Some of the prominent non-edible oil seed producing plants include jatropha curcas or ratanjyot, pongamia pinnata or karanj, calophyllum inophyllum or nagchampa, hevea brasiliensis of rubber seeds, calotropis gigantia or ark, euphorbia tirucalli or sher, boswellia ovalifololata, neem etc. 3.1 Selection of Species : Jatropha Curcas Considering all the options available among non-edible Tree Bearing Oil (TBO) seeds, Jatropha Curcas has been identified as the most suitable seed. Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 succulents, shrubs and trees from the family Euphorbiaceae. Plants from the genus are natives of Africa, North America and the Caribbean. Originating in the Caribbean, the Jatropha had spread as a valuable hedge plant to Africa, Asia and to India by Portuguese traders. Jatropha Curcas is a widely occurring variety of TBO. It grows practically all over India under a variety of agro-climatic conditions. Thus it ensures a reasonable production of seeds...
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