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There is debate at the moment about Developed Industrial countries using such products to secure their fuel supply and "Not to offer a sustainable low inpact low carbon solution" which primarily has an "Environmental Benefit".

Bio diesel is a fuel oil made mainly from organic vegetable oils, although other oils may be included in the "recipe". The production process is called transesterification.

It is completely biodegradable, non-carcinogenic, non-mutagenic, non-allergenic and less toxic to daphnia than normal salt.

It may be used in any diesel engine vehicle with almost no adjustment, and mixed In any ratio with petro diesel as a lubricity and emissions improver. (NB – older engines may need to have any natural rubber components in the fuel supply system changed but, as a general rule, any post-‘93 vehicle designed to use ULSD is compatible.)

Bio diesel will clean the fuel system of waxes and gums left behind by previous petro diesel use - including unblocking injectors - but these will be deposited in the fuel filter, which may need to be changed after a few hundred miles. A warning loss of power is experienced.

Bio diesel contains almost as much energy as its fossil counterpart but, due to higher burning efficiency and lubricity, no real loss of performance will be noticed by the user. What will be noticed is a reduction in black smoky exhaust emissions – much of the carbon particulate matter is burnt by the oxygenated fuel.

Bio diesel costs two to three times as much to make as it costs to produce fossil diesel. This is the reason why the British Government has agreed to reduce the fuel duty rate, so that the use of an environmentally friendly fuel may be promoted.

Green ISP promotes and encourages the use and production of bio diesel but only if proved to be as sustainable as possible.

The emissions from bio diesel vehicles are far more people-friendly than those from petro diesel. They are neither carcinogenic nor mutagenic and cause far less bronchial irritation.

Carbon monoxide is reduced by up to 47%.

Because bio diesel is an oxygenated fuel, much of the harmful carbon monoxide is converted to the dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is increased by around 2%.

This doesn't’t matter – the plants from which the oil came absorbed the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when growing (called carbon recycling).

Particulates are reduced by up to 48%.
Total unburned hydrocarbons by around 67%

This figure may be improved even further by the use of particulate traps.

Bio diesel does not contain sulphur other than by trace contamination.

So why don't we use Bio fuel More?

The main reason why the UK is so far behind other EU member states is an incorrect report published in 1995 which stated that the use of bio diesel would save only 60% of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions. This was contrary to all other reports published world-wide, but it has taken many years to overcome government resistance.

No two lifecycle studies have produced the same results, due to the fact that there are so many variables in the equation.

For example, nitrogen soil fertilization is very energy intensive, using petrochemicals during manufacture. Conversely, the use of farm slurry and other bio products, spreading with a tractor running on 100% bio diesel, produces an entirely different set of results.

Hence, it is reasonable to generalize when comparing the effects of using bio diesel to replace fossil fuels.

The EPA conclusion was that there is a 78% carbon emissions reduction, versus petro diesel.


The environmental benefits of bio diesel should not be confused with claims made for versions of fossil fuels such as "green diesel" or "city diesel".

All fossil fuels – including compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) - liberate vast amounts of carbon dioxide, which is now universally acknowledged as contributing to global climate change. This carbon has been stored for many millions of years - hence the expression "fossil fuels".

The plants from which bio fuels are made extract carbon (dioxide) from the atmosphere, sequestrate a considerable proportion of it in plant roots left in the soil and then liberate the rest when the fuel is used. No additional carbon dioxide is produced.

As a useful by-product, oxygen is produced by the plants from which bio fuels are made. Which is a bit of luck for us.

Bio diesel is made from plants which grow again on the same plot of land, year after year after year. The fuel is therefore sustainable (for ever and ever, amen).

Bio diesel Elsewhere in the World

Bio diesel has been used in Europe and the USA for many years.

There are over 1000 bio diesel pumps at filling stations in Germany and Austria. It sells at a price no greater than ULSD and sometimes a promotional euro cent or two less.

In the main, bio diesel is made from fresh oil in Germany and recycled oil in Austria. There is no appreciable difference in the product.

Bio diesel is added to all petro diesel in France as a lubricity replacement in ultra low sulphur diesel. The three main French oil companies add 5%; Shell International adds just 2%. They don’t even bother to tell you at the pumps.

Germany produces over 400,000 tonnes of bio diesel a year; France, 120,000 tonnes and Italy, 125,000 tonnes. In 2002, total EU production was estimated at 1.1m tonnes.

In the USA, production is based on soy oil. Following EPA approval, production is set to quadruple within the next two years.

Bio diesel was approved by the US Congress for general use on 22 June 2000 following exhaustive Tier 1 & 2 trials being carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is the only fuel to have been subjected to these trials.

It is also available in Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Czechia and Hungary. In most of these countries, a zero tax rate is applied.

The maximum potential in the UK for recycled oil production under the new tax regime will be 100,000 tonnes.

This is only 1.5% of the petro diesel fuel used in the UK, or 0.3% of the total transport fuels.

Bio diesel is not the answer to all our future transport problems, but it would form part of the Government’s sustainable transport policy – if they had one. As it is, they haven’t, so it isn’t. But we are slowly getting there.

Every tonne of bio diesel* used, whether 100% or mixed, saves almost one tonne of carbon emissions, or 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

(* made from used vegetable oil)

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