As mentioned in a directive by the E.U., most conventional diesel engines are expected to run on a fuel mixture that contains 7% biodiesel. The percentage of biofuel used is already directed to increase to 10 by the end of 2020. While this is a very positive move towards maintaining a greener future, there are a few key complications that need to be tackled first.
The Biodiesel Conundrum
Most of the biofuel being produced in Europe comes from rapeseed and it includes long chained compounds in hydrocarbons. They are commonly known as fatty acid methyl esters and are used as fuel additives to reduce the region’s overall consumption of fossil fuels. The problem comes due to the chemical differences between diesel and biodiesel, especially when it comes to the temperatures at which they turn to vapor and combust in an engine. Conventional diesel holds a lower vapor temperature than biodiesel, and conventional diesel engines are build surrounding this temperature. This means that to turn biofuel to vapor, a diesel engine needs to be operated at a higher temperature, which will damage the engine in the long run.
The New Biodiesel Solution
A team of researchers from Rostock, Bochum, and Kaiserslautern have recently shown a new method for producing biodiesel. According to the team, they can use this new method to alter the chemical properties of the final mixture, which means that they can reduce the vapor temperatures of biofuel.
The research was performed in the University of Kaiserslautern, within the 3MET collaborative research facility. The study was also supported by the Carl Zeiss Foundation and the German Federal Environmental Foundation.