In this article published March 2011 in the Low Carbon Journal, Hemant Y. Shrirame et. al. put a case for biodiesel as a viable option for fossil fuels in India (the sixth biggest country in the world and second highest country after china in Asia in terms of energy demand with high dependency on imported fuel).
The main commodity sources for biodiesel in India can be non-edible oils obtained from plant species such as Ratanjot (Jatropha curcus), Karanja (Pongamia pinnata), Castor (Ricinus communis) oilseed etc. It contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petro- leum diesel to create a biodiesel blend or can be used in its pure form. It has become an interesting alternative to be used in diesel engine, because it has similar properties to the traditional fossil diesel fuel and may, thus, substitute conventional fuel with none or very minor engine modification. One of the attractive features of biodiesel is its biodegradability and being more environmental friendly than the fossil fuels, resulting in less environmental impact upon accidental release to the environment. Emissions such as total hydro carbons and CO are usually found to significantly low with biodiesel as compared to petroleum diesel. This may be due to more complete combustion caused by the increased oxygen content in the flame coming from the biodiesel molecules.
With increase in the demand of petroleum products the prices of petrol & diesel are increasing world wide. This trend is expected in years to come as the resources are also depleting. Hence alternative sources of energy for running our generators, automobiles etc. are being considered world wide.
The possibility of obtaining oil from plant resources has aroused a great interest and in several countries, vegetable oil after esterification being used as ‘Biodiesel’. The biodiesel can be used as 20% blend with petrodiesel in existing engines without any modification. Both the edible and non edible vegetable oils can be used as the raw materials for the biodiesel. Considering the cost and demand of the edible oils the non edible oils may be preferred for the preparation of biodiesel in India.
Read the full article from Hemant Y. Shrirame et. al (2011) published in the Low Carbon Economy Journal from here