Biodiesel Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Biodiesel?
What about using biodiesel in a normal diesel engine?
Why is biodiesel sustainable in the environment?
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Biodiesel Timeline


What is Biodiesel?  
  • Biodiesel is a clean, renewable and domestically produced diesel fuel. Unlike fossil fuels which can only be used once, biofuels like biodiesel are made by growing oil crops. These crops absorb and convert CO2 into oils in their seeds. Biofuel is made from crops grown today whereas fossil fuel comes from forest which grew millions of years ago – fossil fuel is therefore not renewable .
fossil fuels
  • Biofuel is not a finite resource - we are only limited by what we can grow.
  • Many reports state that the overriding advantage of biofuel is that it doesn't add CO2 to the atmosphere and can be locally produced and used. Biofuel is therefore a low carbon alternative to fossil fuel diesel.
  • Biodiesel is one of several renewable, sustainable fuels that are changing the way we think about transport, pollution and the environment. If we don't switch to low carbon fuels we drive global warming and climate change forward.
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What is the difference between biodiesel and biofuel?

  • When people refer to biofuel, they may well be referring to biodiesel - biofuel is a more generic term for renewable fuels. We use the term biodiesel as we make biofuel suitable for diesel engines.
Where does Biodiesel come from?
biodiesel crop
  • Uptown Biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oils that have been used and discarded from commercial food fryers. These oils might otherwise find their way into already over-used landfill disposal sites, be burnt as waste or illegally poured down drains.
  • Uptown Biodiesel comes from London’s restaurants and pubs. You’ll know which establishments we collect from by the circular sunflower sticker displayed in their window. This sticker is a sign that the pub or restaurant has made a commitment to sustainability and supports the responsible recycling of waste oil.
Where can I use biodiesel?  
  • Biodiesel can be used without engine conversion in most diesel cars, boats, trains, trucks, diggers, generators, ships, space heaters etc. Biodiesel can be used in central heating oil boilers with a simple burner nozzle change. Please contact us if you are unsure whether you can use it in your vehicle or heater.
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What do I need to know about use of biodiesel in a normal diesel engine?  
  • Pure biodiesel can be used in normal diesel engines. Some engines prefer 100% biodiesel such as taxis, vans and trucks, other vehicles may prefer a blend of biodiesel and fossil diesel.
alternative fuel
  • Some folk claim that biodiesel degrades rubber gaskets in engines. Natural rubber can be damaged by pure biodiesel, although engine manufacturers no longer use natural rubber having switched to synthetic seals years ago.
  • Biodiesel is a better solvent than petro-diesel and has a cleansing effect on engines that have previously run on petro-diesel.  This can lead to fuel filters and injectors becoming clogged with soot when biodiesel is first used, as biodiesel cleans out the system.  It is therefore recommended that the fuel filter is changed within 6 – 800 miles of switching to biodiesel.
How is Biodiesel rated?  
  • Biodiesel is given a B rating according to the percentage of it in a fuel mix so that pure biodiesel would be a B100, and a 20% mix would be a B20. At Uptown Oil, we make B100, which you can either use straight in your vehicle, or mix with normal diesel to create a blend.
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How is biodiesel viewed by the car manufacturers?
100% biodiesel pumps
  • Some UK manufacturers only maintain their engine warranties for use with a maximum 5% biodiesel blend as compared  to standard fuels it is relatively untested. Others such as Renault and VW warrant their vehicles in Europe for up to 30% biodiesel blend.
  • Volkswagen and Scania now allow most of their diesel-engined vehicles to operate on 100% biodiesel.
  • Peugeot and Citroen have both announced that their PSA Hdi engine can now run on 30% biodiesel.
  • Rover is upping its current 5% to 8% and then again to 10% next year
How does the cost compare to petro-diesel?  
  • Our biodiesel is cheaper than petro-diesel by about 10%
  • Biodiesel can be more expensive to purchase than petro-diesel but this can vary from country to country according to the governmental attitude to it and its tax treatment.  In Germany, for instance, it is normally cheaper than petro-diesel at petrol stations where both are sold.  As production expands it is likely that economies of scale will mean the price will reduce.
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Biodiesel Timeline:  
1853 First experiments conducted in the transesterification of vegetable oil  

Rudolf diesel

Visionary - Rudolf Diesel ( 1858 -1913)

Rudolf  Diesel’s new engine runs on its own power for the first time.  He shows foresight of  Wellsian proportions when he states: “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal-tar products of the present time.”
His engine is powered by peanut oil, not strictly biodiesel as it has not undergone the transesterification process.:
The manufacturers of diesel engines change them to take advantage of the less viscous petro-diesel which is much cheaper to produce, more profitable, and results in the decline in interest in biofuels.
1937 A patent is granted for the “transformation of vegetable oils for their uses as fuels”.  This describes the alcoholysis (or transesterification) of vegetable oils using methanol and ethanol to separate the fatty acids from the glycerol by replacing it with short linear alcohols.
1977 A Brazilian scientist patents a biodiesel  using transesterification with ethanol and it is this process which is accepted as the international norm for biodiesel.
1983 The process for refining fuel-quality, engine-tested biodiesel is completed and published.  
Austrian company, Gaskoks, erect the first industrial scale biodiesel plant.
Local production facilities are set up in Europe, and in France biodiesel is mixed into regular diesel and is used in some public transport fleets.
Minnesota becomes the first US state to mandate that all diesel fuel must contain part biodiesel.

Uptown Oil start producing Biodiesel

UK law mandates that all fossil diesel must contain 2.5% biodiesel (increasing to 5% within 5 years)
2009 Uptown and London South Bank University optimise biodiesel production based on used cooking oil  
2010 Uptown Oil produces its first million litres of biodiesel  
2011 Government announces that biodiesel for road transport use will be taxed the same as fossil diesel  
2011 Uptown wins power supply contract with PriceWaterhouse Coopers for their new head office in Central London  
2011 Uptown wins 'Green Business of the Year 2011'  

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