Palm oil biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum fuel. It is made from the oil that is extracted from the fruit and seeds of the palm tree. Cars, trucks, boats, and other machinery that have an internal combustion engine can run on palm oil biodiesel. It can be pure in form or it can be mixed with varying amounts of petroleum as well. Although use of palm oil biodiesel may emit less carbon than other fossil fuels, its widespread use also carries with it many negative repercussions.
About ten percent of the palm tree is used when extracting palm oil. The rest is considered waste in some areas, while other places use the waste as cooking briquettes. Although palm trees are found in many geographic locations, Malaysia exports the most palm oil globally, much of which is used as palm oil biodiesel.
There are several benefits of using palm oil biodiesel. For example, refineries or mills for the biodiesel are being constructed in many countries around the globe, such as the United States, the Caribbean, Central America, and Asia. The refineries create jobs and boost the local economies. In addition, using palm oil biodiesel will not emit pollution-causing carbon when it is burned. This makes it cleaner than many other fossil fuels.
Many scientific experts believe that the detriments of using palm oil biodiesel far outweigh the benefits. For example, palm oil can be used as a food source. This creates a debate as to whether the oil should be used as a biodiesel or used to feed people across the world. Since it is in high demand for both sources, the cost has risen substantially over the last few years.
Other arguments against using palm oil biodiesel include its environmental impact. Given the large demand for palm oil both as a biodiesel and as a source of food, some companies have logged large areas of palm trees for oil. This large-scale deforestation is bad for the natural habitat and makes it difficult to sustain the growth of the palm trees over a long duration. In addition, since the demand has caused the price of the palm oil to rise, it has become very expensive when compared to other biodiesel alternatives, such as vegetable oil.
Some environmentalists also argue that the fuels, energy, and waste used and created during the construction of the palm oil refineries and mills results in large amounts carbon pollution. In fact, some claim that the carbon emitted from the construction is far greater than the carbon saved by using the biofuel itself. In addition, they claim that the overuse of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals on the palm trees creates additional pollution to the land and waterways.