Growing operational costs, an urgency to look for a more sustainable option to run motor vehicles, emissions causing a dent in the ozone, and the importance of balancing the international trade are a few factors contributing to the need to pursue biofuel production.
While biofuel production has existed for a long time, it has recently gained popularity. Sourcing best quality raw materials, prepping the oilseeds, processing them to extract oil, and refining them involves various factors. The profit share in the manufacturing and refining oils and fats is meagre, and repurposing the infrastructure and resources to process biproducts for value additions like biofuel can be profitable for manufacturers.
Organic materials derived from plants and animals are the main ingredients in generating biofuels. For example, vegetable oils derived from canola, Palm, soybean, sunflower, Ricebran, corn, and maize produce biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel are the two derivatives. While ethanol is alcohol, biodiesel is the fuel used to replace petrol and diesel. Ethanol is a resultant of fermentation, and the production of biodiesel takes place through the trans-esterification of naturally occurring oils (triglycerides).
Types of Biofuels
Biofuels are categorized based on ingredients used in their production.
Ethanol is a pure form of alcohol and biofuel used in cars. Sugarcane and corn are the most common sources of producing ethanol. Ethanol helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is even more efficient when mixed with other fuels. Countries like Brazil, where sugarcane is grown on a large scale, have already powered their motor vehicles with ethanol.
Fats and oils derived from animals and plants are the sources of biodiesel. While plants consisting of high energy are a great source, used edible oil from restaurants is also used in making biodiesel. Biodiesel does not contain sulphur and is popular due to its lower sulphur dioxide emissions. Manufacturers are slowly identifying its importance since sources like animal fat, recycled edible grease, and vegetable oils are readily available and can be used to make biodiesel. However, its production remains expensive due to a lack of infrastructure.
Biobutanol is another biofuel that can be derived using algae and bacteria. Biobutanol has higher energy per unit than its peers. However, its production costs are higher and used in standard gasoline engines. In addition, biobutanol is non-corrosive when used in pipelines and engines. Distribution of biobutanol is a lot easier since it is possible with existing infrastructure.
Anaerobic breaking down of organic matter helps produce biogas. While it is mainly helpful in agriculture, domestic usage is also possible by packing it into cylinders.
Methanol is a mix of hydrogen and oxygen. A process of gasification by running biomass through high temperatures with a catalyst results in a clear liquid that is soluble in water and biodegradable. Much like ethanol, methanol can also be of use in motor vehicles.
Importance of biofuel
Biofuels can be used as alternative resources for conventional fuels. They have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. However, it is becoming overly crucial to scale their production due to the balance of international trade, reliability of external factors, transportation, trade agreements, and others.
Ease of use
Infrastructure, storage, and management of biofuel remain the same as petroleum and diesel, making it easy to use for everyone involved in the process. Since it is identical in its uses, biofuel will bring about a tremendous balance in the fuel economy. Due to its similarity, end-users also find it easy to switch between biofuels and conventional fuels like and diesel without any complex changes.
Investing in the production of biofuels helps create more jobs, enables oil and fat manufacturers to optimize resources, increase profits, achieve economic growth, and contribute to the growing demands of energy at a global level. Last but not least, the production of biofuels directly helps farmers improve their source of income through agricultural output.
Reduction in emission
Transportation is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and biofuel production helps reduce it significantly. Biofuel usage also helps reduce carcinogenic compounds and enables a better environment through cleaner air.
Biofuel is less toxic, and the usage of recycled oils makes it a better option when compared to its counterparts. In addition, the requirement of resources, making process, transportation, and an environmentally friendly option are a few factors that make the production of biofuel effortless.
Relationship between oils and fats industry and oil manufacturers/refiners
Cooking, baking, packaged food, external application, medicinal purposes, and many other areas require oils and fats. Customers' needs are ever-changing, resulting in manufacturers and refiners working around the available infrastructure to meet the evolving needs. It implies different techniques involving machinery, equipment, methods, and other operations-based infrastructural changes result in additional costs to the manufacturers and refiners of the oil and fats industry. While the changes are part of the trade, it is in their best interest to begin utilizing the same infrastructure, raw materials, and by-products to sell diversified lines of products like biofuel.
Animal fat (tallow), recycled kitchen grease, acid oil and edible and non edible are a few resources that contribute to biodiesel production. Biodiesel can be used in engines without any modifications and is a renewable form of energy that is also environmentally friendly both in its making and usage. Turning their oil manufacturing by-products into making biodiesel is a lucrative business opportunity for the manufacturers it also enables optimization of resources. Production of biodiesel helps farmers, oil manufacturers, the economy, and the environment making it a win-win situation for all parties involved since a few additional equipment to the existing infrastructure can improve profit numbers significantly for oil manufacturers/ refiners.
Switch to biodiesel
Manufacturing and refining oils and fats is a tedious process and a costly one at that. Legal restrictions, labour problems, and issues like the increase in raw material and operational cost are just the tip of many other challenges that oil and fat manufacturers manage. Legal restrictions, labour problems, and many other issues make selling oil costly. Cost-cutting and optimal usage of resources help curb costs but do not significantly improve profit share. That is why oil and fats manufacturers must make the most of their existing infrastructure.
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