Have you heard of cars that run on peanut oil? Well when Rudolph Diesel invented his engine — the ones we now run on what has become known as 'diesel' (Named after him)— he ran his own car on peanut oil. Nowadays all sorts of vegetable oils are being used to replace traditional diesel and, not least, petroleum. In the UK, a few thousand cars are already being run on used chip oil (that's the oil that fries/chips have been made in), which, on such a small scale, is a good thing. The issue is, recycled cooking oils in the UK, can only produce about 100,000 tons of diesel per year, and that's no more than 1/380th of the total fuel used through road transport alone. What, you have to wonder, would happen to the rest? We'd obviously have to grow oil producing crops in order to run our cars on "environmentally friendly" fuel.
Shouldn't be too difficult, should it? Just plant some fields with rape, and before you know it, you're turning oil into fuel and our air becomes a lot cleaner. But is it really as easy as that? Let's look at the specifics around this. 1 hectare of rape will yield an average of 1.5 tonnes of bio-diesel.
In order to run the same number of road transport vehicles as there are today in the UK, rape would need to be grown on almost 26 million hectares of land. Considering that the UK only has a little less than 6 million hectares of arable land available, where on Earth are we going to grow the rest? That's it, somewhere else on Earth. Once again the 3rd world countries will undoubtedly end up producing the oil we need in order to run our cars in an "environmentally friendly" manner, while those who farm the land can barely afford to eat, let alone run a car. Better for the environment? Maybe, but better for society as a whole: Definitely not.
And while we're growing oil-seed on so much of the land, where will our food be grown? Can we really produce the amount of oil needed to fuel the number of vehicles that are found on the road today, let alone in the future? Then there's the question of the real production process connected with bio-diesel. Rape seed doesn't become bio-diesel of its own accord, after all. The seed will need to be transported to processing plants where energy is used to transform it into something more environmentally friendly than gasoline or other petroleum based fuels. But how much gas and/or electricity will be used to run the machinery needed to process the oil? And how much energy will be needed in order to heat and light the processing plants? And where will the plants be built? Whether so-called "green diesel" will really be better for the environment is anybody's guess.
We know they won't omit damaging carbon dioxide, but everything has a price. What price can we afford to pay? P.S. I have some knowledge of another source of Bio-Fuel supplies that could sort it. But I'm afraid you'll have to wait for another article to read about it, and my own ideas are perhaps progressing to. .
. Copyright (c) 2008 Mervyn Rees.
Mervyn Rees - The author of, 'The Secrets of Biodiesel'. http://www.whybiodiesel.com An active young 72 year old with a lifespan of experience to share, being a Fellow of the Institute Motoring Industry, built his own Dragonfly Roadsters before retiring as a Motor Vehicle Manufacturer. Having tried retiring twice and given up, he has now created an additional website http://www.mervtech.com to share his many interests with other companionable people.