Making Bidiesel at Home
Biodiesel is an interesting fuel ...
Biodiesel is a renewable energy fuel made from vegetable oil. The truth about and availability of this fuel is somewhat clouded by misinformation from governments, lobby groups and oil companies. I don't purport to know all the facts but here is some info for you to consider:
Crude Oil Price $0.70
Refinery Margin (Gross) $0.02
Wholesale Margin (Gross) $0.09
Fuel Excise $0.38
Pump Price $1.37
Who makes the bucks?
Clearly the biggest profit taker from fuel is the Government of Australia! For their almost 40% they do nothing but collect the money. In comparison the fuel companies must find the oil, drill for it, pay royalties, get it to a refinery, make petrol, diesel and all the other stuff they make from crude then get these products to market. In addition to the Government being the major profit taker, every time fuel goes up the Government makes even more money courtesy of being Mr. 10% via the GST. This scenario is played out in similar fashion across the world
If you think these government guys are interested in lower fuel consumption, green fuel, fuel without tax or cars that do 20 kilometres per litre + you are naive in the extreme! No one wants a pay cut, least of all government. When you hear a politician sprouting forth about fuel, greenhouse gasses and reducing traffic it is all just lip service. Politicians have made a science out of being bullshit artists. Politicians are also addicted to the public purse. The more they spend (of our money) the more popular they become and the greater their chance of re-election.
The fact is: If the fuel consumption in Australia was reduced by way of say legislating that all cars have a defined fuel consumption figure (say better than 15 kilometers per litre) politicians would have to raise the price of fuel to keep their revenue stream intact.
Rewind 100 years
Almost 100 years ago a bloke was found face down in the English Channel. How he died remains the subject of conjecture but this bloke had just invented an engine that ran on peanut oil. He was pretty pleased with it apparently, the fuel was edible, the pollution minimal and he thought it would be a really neat power plant for a submarine. He had convinced the French of this fact and was on his way to England at the time of his mishap. His name was Rudolph Diesel, his invention was the diesel engine and it carries his name to this day. The diesel engine was designed to run on a renewable fuel.
Back in the present
You can still run most diesel engines on peanut oil. In fact any vegetable oil will do. These engines have also been run on animal fat, cream and a few other makeshift fuels. The modern diesel engine is somewhat more complex than the original invention and its long term requirements are for a somewhat less viscous fuel than straight veggie oil. This is where biodiesel comes in. You see biodiesel is a fuel made from vegetable oil but the part that makes most vegetable oils thick has been removed.
It is also possible to have biodiesel in every petrol station in Australia and legislate that all cars sold after a certain date must do in excess of 20 kilometres per litre. Does anyone want this? Apparently not.
So where does this leave us?
Make your own! It is easy to make your own biodiesel, all you need is a good supply of used vegetable oil. I have been making my own biodiesel for over 10 years. It is a pretty neat feeling driving down the road using fuel you made for yourself and it puts all the government spin into a bit of perspective. While making biodiesel is not exactly world changing, the savings are enormous and it is good fun, educational and a good way to get rid of used vegetable oil which is available for free and in abundance again in most places.
Here is a book that tells you how to make biodiesel in an easy to follow and understand format.