Biodiesel fuel is known for its clean burning emissions when used in machinery and vehicles that are made to burn petroleum-based products. In comparison, biodiesel is generally considered to be the safest and most environmentally beneficial fuel choice, compared to other forms of fuel. However, not everyone is willing to give the product an absolutely clean record, free and clear of any worrisome or negative effects.
While biodiesel has absolutely been proven to help clean up polluted air as well as not contribute its own negative elements, there are some concerns that there may still be present certain types of contamination issues that people are over looking in the scramble to quickly find and approve a perfect alternative fuel source without giving the kind of scrutiny it deserves. These concerns may affect the ability of biofuels to deliver the same standard of care and service to a vehicle’s engine that a petroleum-based product would, and although people would like to consider the environment an important issue, it really boils down to the cost-effectiveness of using a product that may not be the best one all around for the money.
Biodiesel is an organically-based product. The main ingredient in the process of making biodiesel is oil, which is plant-based. However, in order to refine the liquid so that it is useable as a fuel, the oils must undergo a stringent process in which some very toxic and even deadly chemicals are used. Because biodiesel is an oil-based product, it is “hydrophobic”. This means that it naturally repels water molecules; however it may be that the finished product of biofuels does indeed contain small, yet important, amounts of water in it. This can cause big problems later on in a vehicle’s engine.
The presence of small molecules of water in a biodiesel fuel can mean that the fuel will freeze more quickly or form ice crystals and contribute to gelling, or the solidifying of the fuel in the engine lines, which is a problem that biodiesel fuels already have. Also, because water does contain elements of oxygen, this can cause rust and corrosion to form over time in the vital parts of the engine, such as the fuel pumps, fuel lines and the injector pumps.
One of the ways that biodiesel fuel works in a diesel engine is through the process of combustion; however the presence of water molecules in the fuel will lead to the reduction of the heat of combustion, causing diesel engines to have less overall power, to start harder and to emit a lot of smoke into the air.
Because the process of chemically altering oils to turn them into useable biodiesel fuels must be done properly to avoid water contamination, it is important that those who make the product at home follow the directions explicitly or else, at best, the batch will be ruined. At worst, the car will also be ruined.
Biodiesel that is sold commercially is heavily scrutinized and held to high standards. Although the product can be made, and even sold, from home, the National Biodiesel Board does not recommend the purchase of it through anyone other than an approved distributor. Buying from a reputable source will ensure that water contamination issues and climate needs have been addressed by professionals.