Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems

pp 153-171

Renewable Diesel

  • Robert RapierAffiliated withAccsys Technologies PLC

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Concerns about the environmental impact of fossil fuels – as well as the possibility that fossil fuel production may soon fall short of demand~– have spurred a search for renewable alternative fuels. Distillates, the class of fossil fuels which includes diesel and fuel oil, account for a significant fraction of worldwide fossil fuel demand. Renewable distillates may be produced via several different technologies and from a wide variety of raw materials. Renewable distillates may be categorized as biodiesel, which is a mono-alkyl ester and not a hydrocarbon, or ‘green diesel’, which is a renewable hydrocarbon diesel produced via either hydrotreating or biomass to liquids (BTL) technology. There are, however, important ecological and economic tradeoffs to consider. While the expansion of renewable diesel production may provide additional sources of income for farmers in tropical regions, it also provides economic incentive for clearing tropical forests and negatively impacting biodiversity. Also, many of the raw materials used to produce renewable diesel are edible, or compete with arable land used to grow food. This creates potential conflicts over the use of biomass for food or for fuel. In contrast to first-generation renewable diesel technologies which utilize primarily edible oils, BTL technology can utilize any type of biomass for diesel production. However, high capital costs have thus far hampered development of BTL technology.


Biodiesel biofuels Fischer-Tropsch green diesel renewable diesel