is a substance that releases usable energy. Thus fuels store energy that can be released when needed. Renewable
relates to a characteristic that allows a resource to be replaceable by new growth. Thus, renewable fuels is a
substance that releases usable energy and this energy can be replaced by new growth which replenishes the energy
Renewable fuels are a subset of Renewable Energy, Renewable Energy
relates to the wider spectrum of energy which once used up is replenished naturally. It includes wind energy, tidal
energy, hydel energy etc. In these cases the energy from the energy carrier is converted to electricity which is
used up immediately. It also includes fuels which are generally self generating biomass which can convert solar
energy and store such energy in the form of biomass. When we release such energy by using up the biomass, we can
replenish such biomass by growing it again, thus reconverting solar energy into biomass. Often such biomass energy
resources are converted into other fuels which are in a more usable form and which can be stored, transported,
distributed, and burnt for energy with greater efficiency and standardisation.
1. What is Biodiesel?
It is a fuel composed of mono-alkyl
esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats. It contains no petroleum but can be
blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel works with any diesel engine
with few or no modifications to the engine or the fuel system.
2. What are the advantages
over petroleum diesel?
Use of Biodiesel results in
substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to petroleum diesel.
In addition exhaust emissions of sulphur oxides and sulphates are essentially eliminated. Life cycle analysis shows
that for every unit of fossil energy it takes to make biodiesel, 3.2 units of energy is gained. It thus has the
highest energy balance of any transportation fuel. It is a renewable energy source and does not deplete the world's
resources. Biodiesel has a higher cetane number than most petroleum diesel. This makes it burn better with lesser
residue thus enhancing engine life. Biodiesel shows similar fuel consumption, horsepower, torque and haulage rates
as petroleum diesel.
3. Why biodiesel makes sense
as an alternate fuel source?
Up to now no alternate fuel
source has been developed commercially other than biodiesel. One of the main problems is the huge investment required
to change the design of engines and infrastructure needs from the existing one. In most cases engine design, fuel
delivery design, fuel storage design, fuel delivery design etc have to be changed. In the case of biodiesel, investments
in such changes are minimal and the same infrastructure can be used. It thus makes changing over economic and easy.
This is the single most important reason for the acceptability of biodiesel as a fuel worldwide. Governments are
giving their full backing to this fuel because it meets their objectives of reduction of emissions and particulate
matter from renewable sources.
4. Biodiesel worldwide
Biodiesel use worldwide has
grown .It started in a very small way in 1992. However it made significant progress from 1999 and for the last
3 years has grown by leaps and bounds as more production capacity was added and Governments gave incentives for
its production and use. Europe had a capacity of 6,743,333 Kilo Litres of biodiesel as at 1st July 2006 and produced
and consumed 3,537,778 Kilo litres in 2005. Year to year percentage increase in Capacity in Europe has increased
by 65% in 2005 and 90% in 2006. The US consumed around 283,875 Kilo litres in 2005. US production capacity as at
1st May 2006 was 1,495,075 Kilo Litres and plants under construction is expected to add further production capacity
of 2,701,354 Kilo Litres by 2007. It is being used across the world and more and more countries are giving incentives
for its production and use. Even then, it may be considered a new industry worldwide as true impetus in the industry
really took place for the last 5 years. Various technologies are being used for production.
5. Biodiesel in India
India has got into the game
3 years late. As of today there are no large-scale plants operating in India. (Large scale can be defined as producing
more than 10kl of biodiesel a day.) The Central Government is in the process of laying down the policy for biodiesel.
It is expected that the Policy will be announced by the end of the year. The plant being encouraged by the Government
is Jatropha Curcas because it is a very sturdy plant and also grows on arid and wasteland and in extremes of agro
climatic conditions, it can generate massive employment in the rural and agricultural sector, it is nonedible and
toxic, cattle and animals do not eat it, it has high oil yield and is comparatively cheap to grow. Seeing the potential
many states have taken the lead in growing this plant. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu are the frontrunners.
Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are fast catching up. The Indian Railways and the public
sector oil companies have also got into the act over the last 3 years. In the private sector, Reliance Petroleum
has declared its intention to get into this area this year. D1 Oils plc of UK is also building capacity in South
India. The tax and fiscal incentive structure has not yet been put in place by the Central Government. At the moment,
there are no Taxes on Biodiesel in the form of Excise Duty or VAT. However it is expected that the Government will
define the incentive structure with the announcement of the Policy on Biodiesel to be announced soon. The Ministry
of Petroleum has announced its policy of purchase of biodiesel in October 2005. Viewing the enormous socio-economic
and environmental benefits accruing to this Industry, it is expected that the Government will have no hesitation
in giving liberal tax and fiscal incentives for the large-scale development of this industry.
6. What are the basic numbers?
a. 2500 Jatropha plants per
b. Each plant will give, on a reasonable estimate, 2kgs of usable seed per year on
c. Thus for 1 hectare seeds available will be 5000 kgs/year
d. Oil recovery can be taken conservatively at 30%
e. Thus from 1 Hectare we will recover 1500 kgs or 1667 litres of jatropha oil and
3500 kgs of oil cake which can be sold as fertilizer.
f. From 1 litre of Jatropha oil we can recover 95% biodiesel
g. Thus from 1 hectare or 3333 litres of oil we will produce 1583 litres of biodiesel
and 220 kgs of crude glycerine.
h. Thus from a 2500 hectare command area of jatropha plantation we can make 3958 kilo
litres of biodiesel, 550 MT of crude glycerine and 8750 Mt of oil cake.
i. At 303 days working this needs a plant capacity of 14kl/day at 100%.
j. Thus we need to put up a plant of 16 kl/day capacity for 2500 hectares of jatropha
k. Entrepreneurs can take up the project in any of the three parts --- plantation,
oil extraction or biodiesel factory.