Oil the re­cy­cling wheel

Biodiesel is the way of the fu­ture, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

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.

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