Everyday, millions of litres of used cooking vegetable oil are wasted and flushed down the sink in home kitchens, restaurants and hotels around the world. What a waste! Especially as all that used oil can easily be converted into biodiesel, a fuel just like ordinary diesel, that could power trucks and machinery.
Biodiesel is a cleaner and better performing fuel than diesel, and it’s a surprise it’s not very popular in Africa yet. In this article, I’ll explore the potentials of biodiesel in Africa, and why its demand is growing around the world. I’ll also share an inspiring success story of one African entrepreneur who’s already exploiting the promising potentials of biodiesel in his country.
In this article, you’ll also learn how biodiesel is made, and all the ingredients, tools and knowledge you need to produce this revolutionary product. Hint: I have included two tutorials to help you fully grasp the basics. This article is a great read. I know you’ll enjoy it!
What exactly is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is very different from the ‘normal’ diesel many of us know. The diesel we’re used to is produced by refining petroleum (also known as ‘crude oil’). Crude oil, which is classified as a ‘fossil fuel’ or ‘non-renewable fuel’ can only be found deep beneath the earth’s surface, from where it is recovered and refined into several products, including petrol (gasoline), kerosene, and diesel.
Biodiesel is not in any way related to, or made from crude oil. Unlike ordinary diesel, biodiesel is a renewable and clean-burning type of diesel that is made from vegetable oils. Yes, vegetable oils! It can be made from most types of vegetable oils including soybean oil, canola oil, palm oil and most other popular oils.
In this article, I’ll be focusing on biodiesel that can be made from Waste Vegetable Oils (WVOs). These are the oils that have been used for frying and cooking food in home kitchens, restaurants, and anywhere else you can find waste cooking oils that may be wasted or flushed down the sink after use.
I know what you’re thinking. Is it really possible to use this biodiesel to drive your truck or power that electricity generator? Of course, it is. In fact, biodiesel is proven to give higher engine performance, more lubricity, and emits less carbon and toxic gases than the ordinary diesel we’re used to.
The 3 Top Reasons Why Biodiesel Is Becoming Popular Around The World?
1. The world wants to reduce waste and recycle more.
In today’s world, resources are becoming limited, and scarce. With a large global population and fast developing economies, both individuals and businesses are looking for more ways to reduce waste. This is why reuse and recycling have become a big deal nowadays.
Do you know how much used cooking vegetable oil the world wastes every day? It’s in the millions of litres! All this waste cooking oil is flushed down the sink or sucked into the drain. But wasting used cooking oil is unnecessary when it can be recycled into a highly valued product that can power trucks and generators.
Biodiesel is just one of many products that can be recycled from waste. In a previous article, I shared the inspiring success stories of five African entrepreneurs who are creating amazing products from waste. You can read it here: Making Money From Trash – Meet Africa’s Top 5 Entrepreneurs in the Waste Recycling Business.
2. There is a growing preference for cleaner and eco-friendly fuels
The carbon emissions from fossil fuel products like diesel, petrol (gasoline) and kerosene, are the biggest contributors to the greenhouse effect, which is widely responsible for global warming and the adverse climatic changes that are affecting our planet.
Biodiesel has several distinct advantages over ordinary diesel. Biodiesel reduces net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 78 percent on a life-cycle basis when compared to diesel.
On top of that, biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic (has a low sulphur content and doesn’t contain carcinogens), making it more sensitive and relatively harmless to the environment.
It is no surprise that the developed world has embraced biodiesel and is gradually increasing its use as a transportation fuel. In most parts of the USA, diesel sold at retail outlets is blended with a minimum of 5 percent biodiesel. In Germany, it’s 7 percent. The same practice exists in most parts of the European Union and Canada.
As the pressure to further combat climate change increases around the world, I expect that the volume of biodiesel that is blended with ‘normal’ diesel will increase. Sometime in the future, cars and trucks could run on 100 percent biodiesel.
3. More countries want to reduce their dependence on crude oil products
If we have learned anything from the history of the last half-century, it would be that excessive dependence on crude oil, especially from foreign sources, is a very risky situation.
Over the past decade, conflict, politics and uncertainty have made crude oil prices very unpredictable. Since most countries around the world have to import petroleum products from foreign sources, the impact of high oil prices instantly affects daily activities, especially the local economy.
To avoid any future surprises from the unpredictability of global oil prices, more countries around the world are looking at locally accessible energy sources to shore up their supplies and protect themselves from oil price shocks.
Biodiesel is an interesting option for anyone who’s looking to diversify or complement their energy supply sources. Both virgin and used vegetable oils are abundantly produced locally, and this makes it possible for biodiesel to be produced anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter if you have crude oil reserves or not!