Oil the recycling wheel
Biodiesel is the way of the future, writesGRAHAMSMITH
THERE’S a lot of talk about the pros and cons of biodiesel today. Some see it as a way to cut running costs, others say it will kill their engines stone dead.
But there’s nothing really new about the fuel. Rudolph Diesel himself started and ran his first engine on peanut oil when he showed it to the world in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition.
Since diesel fired up, the availability of mineral oil has become so vast it’s now the main source of fuel for cars and trucks. But the focus is now on other fuels we might use.
One of them is biodiesel, which is made from materials such as plant and tree oil, and animal fats.
Initially it was thought fuel made from corn or palm oil might provide the answer, but that was before it was realised that the growing of crops used to produce those materials seriously affected the supply of foodstock for animal and human consumption.
And so recycled cooking oil and animal fats began to be used to provide feedstocks for biofuel production.
BioMax is Victoria’s largest producer of biodiesel and one of the biggest in Australia. It has produced commercial quantities of the fuel since 2005.
The company produces 50 million litres a year at its Laverton North plant, but it has the capacity to produce 100 million litres.
BioMax uses 80 per cent recycled cooking oil collected from fast-food outlets, restaurants, cafes and industrial cooking enterprises around Melbourne, country Victoria and New South Wales. The remainder is animal tallow and canola oil.
The product meets all Australian standards for biodiesel and diesel fuels and is sold as a blend in various ratios and as a straight biodiesel.
‘‘Trucks are built to take specific fuels so we have to be very much on top of that,’’ says Mile Soda, managing director of Smorgan Fuels, which makes BioMax. ‘‘A truck driver doesn’t want to have to worry about fuel.
‘‘It’s our job to make sure it meets all of the requirements of diesel.’’
Biomax B5 contains 5 per cent biodiesel and 95 per cent mineral diesel bought from one of the big oil companies. B20 has 20 per cent biodiesel and B100 is pure biodiesel.
Truckmakers generally approve the use of blends up to B20, but BioMax suggests checking the warranty before using its B100 biodiesel.
Though biodiesel might seem a second-rate product, given it is derived from old cooking oil taken from your local burger bar or cafe, it’s anything but second rate.
Biodiesel emits less unburned hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and particulate matter compared with diesel fuel. The emission of sulphur oxides and sulphates, the main components of acid rain, is virtually eliminated.
Most BioMax fuel is sold in blended form through retail outlets or direct to operators, but Soda says the interest in B100 biodiesel is growing.
Max revs: BioMax is Victoria’s largest producer of biodiesel and one of the biggest in Australia, producing 50 million litres last year.