Biodiesel - Part of the Climate Change Solution

London smog
What is Global Warming?

Transport fuel and Climate Change

What's Recycled biodiesel
Where does biodiesel fit in?
Carbon Reduction using biodiesel
The Cleaner City Air Campaign?
Why is recycled biodiesel environmentally friendly?
What is global warming?  

Global warming is the rise in temperature of the earth's atmosphere.

It's said that by the time a baby born today is 80 years old, the world will be 6 and a half degrees warmer than it is now. This doesn't sound that much, but all the scientists agree that this temperature rise will have a devastating effect on planet Earth.

Polar bears without ClimateChange

The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the Earth experiences because certain gases in the atmosphere (water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, for example) trap energy from the sun. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space and Earth’s average temperature would be about 30ºC colder. These gases are referred to as greenhouse gases (GHG's) because of the way they warm our world like the glass in a greenhouse. They are all natural gases, but extra greenhouses gases are made by humans and enter the atmosphere as pollution.

It may seem hard to believe that people can actually change the Earth’s climate, but our activities constantly send greenhouse gases into the air and are making our planet warmer.

Once, all climate changes occurred naturally. However, during the Industrial Revolution, we began altering our climate and environment through agricultural and industrial practices. The Industrial Revolution began the release of vast quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) and this has continued and steadily increased for 200 years. The amounts of the different gases we make is measured annually in Gigatonnes (billions of tonnes). See here for a list of gigatonne emissions of carbon dioxide by country.

The Industrial Revolution changed the way humans live forever and gave birth to modern living. Before the Industrial Revolution, human activity released very few gases into the atmosphere, but now through population growth, fossil fuel burning, and deforestation, we are affecting the mixture of gases in the atmosphere and threatening our civilization with climate change.
Polar Bears with Climate Change

How are extra greenhouse gases made?

Extra greenhouse gases are produced through activities which release carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). These activities include:
  • Burning fossil fuels (including - petrol, diesel, kerosene, fuel oil, coal, LPG, natural gas, and the decomposition of plastics, synthetics and petrochemicals)
  • Cutting down of rainforests and other forests
  • Animal waste which lets off methane
  • Landfill which produces methane and/or CO2
  • Global Warming itself may cause a catastrophic release of GHG's

What's the forecast ?

If Earth gets hotter, many critical aspects of nature and society may be affected:

  • Water expands when it's heated and oceans absorb more heat than land, so sea levels would rise
  • Sea levels would also rise due to the melting of the glaciers and sea ice
  • Cities on coasts would flood
  • Places that usually get lots of rain and snowfall might get hotter and drier
  • Lakes and rivers could dry up
  • There would be more droughts making it increasingly hard to grow crops
  • Global famine becomes a real possibility
  • Less water would be available for drinking and washing
  • Some plants and animals will become extinct because of the heat
  • Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms which are caused by changes in heat and water evaporation will increase
  • Many other local and regional spikes of extreme weather due to a more energetic and powerful atmosphere

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What role does transport fuel have to play?

Urban gas guzzler

The most important source of CO2 emissions worldwide is caused by the transportation of goods and people. Transportation emissions can be broken down as direct, e.g. people traveling (by car, plane, train, etc) or indirect, emissions caused by transportation and trade. We can choose where we are going and by what method, so we can change the amount of direct emissions through changing the way we live.

Indirect emissions are harder for us to change because the consumer has no direct control of the distance between the factory and the store. Since the distance between the manufacturer and the consumer is constantly growing, more pressure is put on the transportation industry to bridge this gap and this ends up creating more indirect emissions.

What's worse is that 99% of the energy used to transport people and goods all over the world comes from the combustion of fossil fuels.

CO2 from fossil fuels

Burning fossil fuels generates the carbon dioxide that drives climate change forward. By reducing the amount of fossil fuels used in transport, significant inroads can be made into reducing the rate of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.


Biodiesel, especially recycled biodiesel is an excellent way to wean fossil fuel vehicle users onto sustainable carbon neutral fuel, without changing their vehicles or modifying their engines. So until truly ecological vehicles arrive, in perhaps 20 years time, biodiesel is an excellent place to start CO2 reduction now. Why wait?

This pie-chart shows the different uses of fossil fuels and the relative amount of CO2 each contributes to the atmosphere. Industrial and Commercial uses account for almost half of all CO2 and must be addressed through changing to renewable commercial and industrial energy supplies. By far the biggest single contributor is transportation of people and goods. This is the simplest area for individuals to tackle - Don't buy strawberries airlifted from Morocco, walk or cycle, use public transport etc etc etc. These are the simple changes that lower CO2 production that can make a World of difference.

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Why do we call it recycled biodiesel and what's the difference?


Uptown Oil's biodiesel is made from 100% used cooking oil. This is a waste product from restaurants, school, pubs, clubs and chip shops from all over London and the South. This oil is filtered and processed and turned into high quality biodiesel.

As this is a recycling process, old to new, used to usable, we call this Recycled Biodiesel. Recycled biodiesel is highly efficient because the vegetable oil is grown and used in the UK, it does not come from abroad. In addition it has already been used for its primary purpose, as a food and as a means to cook.

Recycling what's left into fuel, greatly increases the whole efficiency of the lifecycle of the vegetable oil.

The carbon reduction the biodiesel generates makes it a highly sustainable fuel source.

100% recycled biodiesel


Virgin Biodiesel Production by one large

UK company making 500 million litres per monthGreenergy 500million L virgin biodiesel per month

The other type of biodiesel is Virgin Biodiesel. This type of fuel is made from oil that has not been used for cooking. This is the method for large scale industrial complexes that make hundreds of millions of litres per month.

This industry exists to supply biodiesel to petroleum companies that put it (2.5% in the UK) in their fossil fuel diesel. Some European countries blend and sell up to 30% biodiesel blend on the forecourts.

As much of the oil crops are grown in the developing world, this industry has generated major concerns regarding the sustainability of this type of intensive monoculture farming.

There are widespread news reports of arable land being given over to fuel crop production, denying the people of these countries with the land they need to grow food. Exceptional care must be taken to ensure the rush to profits producing virgin biodiesel for the West does not damage the ecosystems and societies where the crops are grown.

There are other worrying reports associated with this type of mass monoculture for the production of virgin biodiesel including commodity price instability in world food markets, habitat loss, loss of biodiversity, massive use of pesticide, herbicide and fertiliser, displacement of people, water shortages and even the production of more CO2 than the biofuel crops save. Mass commercial biodiesel production may well turn out not to be sustainable at all.

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Where does biodiesel really fit in?

Atmospheric CO2 levels Hawaii
Recycled biodiesel is the most efficient form of this type of biofuel and should be thoroughly encouraged. Not a single drop of urban used oil should be wasted, all should be converted to biodiesel and used in the city the oil was sourced from. This type of distributed energy production is the most sustainable model for biodiesel production.

There are some compelling cases for the development of monoculture fuel crops that do not compete for land and resources with the people of the developing world, nor negatively impact wildlife. This are limited at present but are generally referred to as Next Generation Biodiesel crops

Next Gen crops are not food crops and they do not grow where people currently grow food. These plants are targeted towards arid conditions and can be watered with undrinkable water. These crops can be grown in semi desert conditions of which Earth has much available (and growing due to climate change). Jatropha is one such crop being evaluated for such a role. The development of next gen biofuel crops is an exciting area full of potential and may pioneer the final arrival of sustainable mass production biodiesel.

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What are Uptown Oil's statistics for CO2 reduction?

Industrial CO2
We have calculated the CO2 benefit our fuel generates.

Each kilo of biodiesel displaces 1 kg of fossil fuel. However each kilo of fossil fuel requires another kilo of fossil fuel to get it from its source (middle east) to the UK, so overall each kg of biodiesel prevents the release of 2 kg of CO2. Therefore our 1000 tonnes per year biodiesel production saves about 2000 tonnes of CO2 each year.


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Summary - Why is biodiesel environmentally friendly?  
Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic.  According to US Department of Energy findings, it is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as quickly as sugar.

Biodiesel produces less (up to 60%) of the noxious emissions of particulates from the tailpipe when compared to fossil diesel.  This is mainly due to the presence of  oxygen in biodiesel which allows for complete combustion.  Particulates in the form of carbon dust, together with unburned hydrocarbons are inhaled into the lungs and are suspected of being carcinogenic (cancer forming) in humans.

Uptown's biodiesel has vitually zero sulphur content. It is the presence of sulphur in fossil fuels, including diesel, which leads to the “acid rain” phenomenon.


Biodiesel is a renewable fuel and as such is nominally carbon neutral as it is only putting back in the atmosphere what has been extracted in the process of photosynthesis in plants.  In practice some CO2 is produced in the production of biodiesel and in its transportation, unless (like us) all vehicles operate on 100% recycled biodiesel.

As stated above, when the base product is waste vegetable oil, Uptown biodiesel is simply recycling a waste product and making excellent use of an almost valueless material.

Litre for litre, biodiesel replaces the use of fossil diesel. Increased biodiesel use lowers both total CO2 growth in the atmosphere and mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels. Supported by the Government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, the recycled biodiesel industry should be booming, but it isn't

- to find out why see here.


Uptown Oil is committed to taking practical action to fight climate change and reduce our dependance on fossil fuels. Biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil is a local, sustainable, resilient alternative to fossil diesel. It is easily implemented and reduces costs as well as CO2 production.

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Arctic melting