Learn Biodiesel History and Biodiesel Development

There are interesting details about biodiesel history. Biodiesel is the biofuel that is made from natural oils that comes from living organisms such as plants and animals.

In 1853, scientist J. Patrick and E. Duffy initialized the transesterification process of vegetable oil.

Transesterification is the process used to manufacture fuel by using vegetable oils and animal fats. This was way before biofuel was ever used. On August 10, 1893, Rudolf Diesel ran his prime model which is the first vehicle to run with the biofuel. It was a 10 ft iron cylinder that had a flywheel on the base. His engine was fueled by peanut oil. He readily garnered the Grand Prix in 1900, which was held in Paris, France. The big event was called the World Fair. He believed that the use of biomass fuel would be the future of the engine. These engines were called diesel engines. In 1912, he stated in a speech that using vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem irrelevant today.

However, as time passes by, we will realize that the need for biodiesel will be as significant as coal-tar and petroleum products.

But in the 1920’s diesel engine manufacturers came up to a decision to change the engines using the lower viscosity of the petrodiesel or the fossil fuel rather than use a vegetable oil fuel biomass. They discounted the statement of Diesel and continued to make the fossil fuel. Petrodiesel costs less to mass produce, giving big profits to the petroleum industries. They disregarded Diesel’s warning about the future. Complicated fuel injection systems were created to run on these fuels from fossils. More new vehicles were evolved to use thin fossil fuel rather than thick vegetable oil fuel.

However, Henry Ford believed in Diesel’s words and built a biofuels’ factory. Henry Ford was an essential part of biodiesel history. He was the leader of the market at the time. He made partnerships with oil companies that have natural sources. They made marketing techniques to promote biodiesel. In the 1940’s fossil based fuel products were launched with the promise of lower prices. People soon transferred to petrodiesel. Diesel companies started to rake profits.

Hemp oil is a good producer of biofuel. They can produce bigger amounts of oil than peanut or soybean oil can. Henry thought this could bring biodiesel back to business. But his partners, the same people who promoted it, criticized the product. This is a gloomy phase of biodiesel history. They labeled the product as marijuana. The Marijuana Tax Act was enacted and people panicked and biodiesel factories had to close shop.

The infrastructure for the development of biodiesel was nearly eliminated, mainly because of the commercialization of the petrodiesel. The biodiesel was mainly used only by government. Heavy duty vehicles that were powered by vegetable oils were used in South Africa before World War II.

In the 70’s, the oil crisis happened. Crude oil prices rose and there was an urgent need to research on fossil fuel substitutes. Modern fuel injectors were no suitable for pure vegetable oil. Transesterification process was considered old school and can reduce the viscosity of the oil.

During 1978 to 1996, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States conducted experiments using algae as a source of biodiesel. The experiment was aptly called “Aquatic Species Program”. Later in the nineties, France introduced the production of a biodiesel fuel called diester. It was obtained through the transesterification process of rapeseed oil.

In 1983, Dr. Mitttelbach created a commercial procedure in Austria to convert used cooking oil to biodiesel. In 1989 Dr. Thomas Reed was the first US resident to turn used cooking oil to biodiesel for personal use. These days, with growing environmental problems, biodiesel is being greatly considered to be the alternative source of energy. Biodiesel fueled bus are used by companies today. They are solar powered and are very cost efficient.

August 10 is now the International Biodiesel Day in commemoration of the first biodiesel fueled car in history run by Rudolf Diesel. The history of biodiesel fuel has opened the eyes of governments around the globe. More and more studies are conducted to this effect. Wind, water, solar and geothermal energy are being used as alternative sources of energy. People around the globe are encouraged to use these.