What is trans-esterification?

Transesterification is a chemical process based on mixing of methanol with oil, which was extracted e.g. from rapeseed. During the mixing process sodium methylate acts as the catalyst. Transesterification is used for the production of methyl ester of unsaturated fatty acids (FAME - biodiesel). The byproduct of this proces is glycerol (also known as glycerine), which has a wide range of applications in the chemical, food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

What is biodiesel (FAME)?

Biodiesel (FAME - Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) is made through the transesterification of oils extracted from oil seeds. In Europe rapeseed oil is the most widely used type, in Asia it’s palm and coconut oil, in the United States soybean oil. Also used cookin/frying oils (UFO/UCO) or animal fats (tallow) can be used to make biodiesel. Nowadays, biodiesel can be either used as a 100% substitute for fossil diesel or mixed witth it in various ratios, which leads to decrease of CO2 emissions in the athmosphere.Biodiesel is in many cases made from agricultural products, which are grown domestically (within the respective countries), and therefore it decreases the dependency on imports of fossil fuels from abroad.

What is the difference between FAME and RME?

In principle there is none. In practice both terms mean biodiesel. The term RME is used for biodiesel, which is made solely from rapeseed oil.

What is biodiesel made from?

The following inputs may be used for the production of biodiesel: rapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, mustard seed oil, jatropha oil (used mostly in India), palm oil, used cooking oil or certain types of animal fats.

What was the development of biodiesel?

The first mention of transesterification of vegetable oil dates bact to 1853 – before the diesel engine was even conceived. In 1900 Rudolf Diesel invented an engine that was powered by peanut oil. In this event we can already talk about the usage of biofuel, but not biodiesel, since transesterification wasn’t yet part of the production process. Afterwards, there were lots of investments poured into the research of biofuels and transesterification. These investments were to play a crucial role later. At the onset of the car age, fuel was plentiful and cheap. This situation lasted well into the mid-20th century. However, during the oil crises of the 1970s it became clear that biofuels will gradually have to establish their place in the fuel market. Nowadays we can consider biodiesel a full-fledged alternative to fossil diesel.

What is the advantage of biodiesel?

  • renewable source of energy
  • its use decreases air pollution
  • energy safety - it decreases the dependence of a country on crude oil imports
  • it supports domestic farmers
  • has higher cetane number than fossil diesel – this can increase the output of the engine

Does the Slovak government support the utilization of bioethanol as an alternative fuel in transport?

The Slovak government supports the development of production and utilization of bioethanol via legislative norms, setting the required minimum content of biocomponent in fuels, which are sold within Slovakia. These regulations are derived from EU legislation, which also supports the development and utilization of biofuels.

What is the technical standard of biodiesel?

The international standard for biodiesel is EN 14214. There are other frequently used national specifications. For instance in the USA the norm is ASTM D 6751, in Germany DIN EN 14214 and in the United Kingdom BS EN 14214.

There are also less often used standards for biodiesel made of various oils:

  • RME (repeseed methyl ester) DIN E 51606
  • PME (vegetable methyl ester) DIN E 51606
  • FME (Fat Methyl Ester) DIN V 51606
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