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What is biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages

Currently, the vast majority of energy used comes mainly from fossil fuels, a highly polluting and non-renewable energy source. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate other less polluting and renewable sources of energy. However, these sources also have their downsides.

In this AgroCorrn article we will focus on analyzing one of these sources: biodiesel. Keep reading and we will review what is biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages .

You may also be interested in: Microorganisms for the production of biodiesel
  1. What is biodiesel and what is its origin?
  2. What is biodiesel for
  3. What are the advantages of biodiesel
  4. Disadvantages of biodiesel

What is biodiesel and what is its origin?

It was in the 1890s that biodiesel became popularly known, with the invention of the diesel engine by the German engineer Rudolf Diesel. The diesel engine had a number of advantages over the gasoline engine, one of which was its ability to work with a wide variety of sources, such as vegetable oil. In 1900 and during the Paris Exposition, a diesel engine using peanut oil was exhibited .

This fuel was later called biodiesel and is produced by a transesterification process. This process stimulates chemical reactions in vegetable oil (from specially developed cultivation or commercial waste) and turns it into fuel for these diesel engines. Other raw materials are palm oil, sunflower oil, canola, soy or even animal fats. Although, due to its high production costs, most of this fuel is produced from residual vegetable oil from restaurants, food manufacturing or fast food establishments. Today, developing crops for use as fuels is an industry with great potential, but the high cost of the transesterification process is the main drawback.

During the last few years, the use of biodiesel has grown a lot, increasing from about 25 million gallons of biofuel in early 2000 to more than 2.8 billion in 2016. According to projections in the availability of feedstock, the industry has been marked as aim to produce up to 10% of the diesel transport market by 2022.

What is biodiesel for

Biodiesel has many possible uses, below we are going to explain what are the main uses of biodiesel:


Biodiesel represents a cleaner alternative to the use of oil as fuel, currently the majority. Other alternatives such as solar or wind energy are not practical to be used in transportation.

Power source

Biodiesel cells have applications in energy production such as electricity . This electricity can be used in facilities such as schools, residential areas or hospitals.

According to scientists from the University of San Luis, it is possible to develop a fuel cell using cooking oil and sugar to produce electricity, which can be used to charge from computers to mobile phones.

Heat source

Natural gas can also be produced from biodiesel to heat the house. Unlike using wood to heat your home, biodiesel can reduce nitrogen and sulfur dioxide emissions.

Clean up oil and grease spills

Biodiesel works as a cleaning agent in areas where there is oil contamination of the water. It can also be used as an industrial solvent.

Replace fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are the predominant energy sources in the world today, but they are running out. The development of biodiesel would make it possible to replace these fuels with renewable sources.

What are the advantages of biodiesel

In the following section we explain what the main advantages of biodiesel are :

  • Biofuels such as biodiesel are a renewable source of energy , since the crops from which they are produced can be cultivated again.
  • Furthermore, biodiesel and biofuels are carbon neutral , since the carbon produced in their combustion is offset by the carbon absorbed by the crops that produce them.
  • Another advantage is that biodiesel is an energy source that does not depend on foreign imports and global markets.
  • Biodiesel can be used in current diesel engines without significant mechanical modifications.
  • They are also cleaner and more efficient fuels than fossil fuels, since less hazardous waste is generated during their manufacture.

Disadvantages of biodiesel

One of the disadvantages of biodiesel is that the land used for these crops reduces the amount of land available for growing food. This fact represents a great concern in developing countries, where food must be produced to feed a growing population. In addition, these crops require large amounts of water and fertilizers , which could be used in food production.

Another concern is the effect of monocultures on balanced rural ecosystems. Large areas of monocultures can have a detrimental effect on local flora and fauna.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is biodiesel, advantages and disadvantages , we recommend that you enter our Renewable Energies category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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