Biodiesel is as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional diesel fuels, and can be used to power a standard diesel engine. Made from plant and animal oils, this fuel is often blended with regular diesel to balance environmental and performance factors. To make biodiesel fuel, producers mix biodiesel feedstock with alcohol in a special processing machine. These machines transform the feedstock into fuel for diesel engines, as well as a form of heating oil that can be used in certain types of stoves and furnaces.
Waste vegetable oil represents one of the most commonly-used types of biodiesel feedstock. This oil comes from commercial kitchens, where it is used in deep fryers and other cooking applications. The use of waste vegetable oil as biodiesel feedstock is an effective form of recycling, and helps to divert this waste from landfills. It also lends itself to a particularly high-quality form of biodiesel fuel. In the United Kingdom, some well-known chain restaurants process vegetable waste oils to power company delivery vehicles.
In many parts of the world, virgin vegetable oils serve as the primary source of biodiesel feedstock. This includes oil from nuts, seeds, and beans, such as rapeseed or soybean oil, as well as oil derived from palm and a number of additional vegetable sources. Some forms of algae and fungus also serve as a form of biodiesel feedstock.
Another biodiesel feedstock source includes animal and fish fats. These fats and oils are a by-product of the meatpacking industry. Fish oil feedstock may also be derived from pharmaceutical companies, which produce these oils while manufacturing omega-3 capsules and supplements.
By using biodiesel feedstock to produce alternatives to diesel fuel, manufacturers also help to protect the environment from pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuels reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels like coal and gas, which are associated with many environmental issues. These fossil fuels are also in limited supply, so many people believe it's important to develop alternate fuel sources. Finally, biodiesel feedstock represents a local fuel source, and eliminates the need to transport oil from countries thousands of miles away.
Despite their many advantages,the production of biodiesel fuels also poses a number of challenges. World supplies of vegetable and animal waste products are too small to completely replace diesel fuel, or even to make a significant impact on fuel consumption. Many also argue that it's not cost effective to plant vegetable oil sources simply to extract these oils for fuel. Others have a moral argument against the use of animal fats for fuel.