Biodiesel consisting of mono alkyl esters, is a renewable diesel fuel derived from several non-edible vegetable oils, animal fats, or by-products. As a renewable fuel, bio-diesel reduces petroleum consumption can be used as a fuel for either automotive or heating, either in its pure form or blended with conventional diesel.
The most common alcohol used in biodiesel production is methanol in the presence of an alkaline catalyst called 'methyl ester. Higher order alcohols such as ethanol and propanol are also used in biodiesel production; these produce other classes of compounds - 'ethyl esters' and 'propyl esters'. However, biodiesel produced with methanol is economical.
Depending on the feedstock, biodiesel may be referred to by several specific terms and corresponding acronyms, the most common ones being:
- Soybean methyl ester - SME or SOME
- Rape methyl ester - RME
- Canola methyl ester - CME
- Palm oil methyl ester - PME
- Vegetable oil methyl ester - VOME
- Tallow methyl ester - TME
- Fatty acid methyl ester - FAME (a collective term)
Biodiesel feedstocks are categorized into two broad segments:
- Low FFA feedstock: used cooking oil, tallow and vegetable Oil (CPO, Soya, Sunflower and Palm Stearin)
- High FFA feedstock: Acid oil, free fatty acid distillate, spent oil and high FFA vegetable oil
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