Using Biodiesel in a Home Boiler Using Biodiesel in a Home Boiler

If you are heating your home using a boiler, you should look into all the advantages of using biodiesel in a home boiler. You may also have heard about this type of fuel by one of its other names, including biofuel and, occasionally, bioheat. By any name you call it, it is essentially the same thing: biodiesel is fuel made from vegetable or animal fats.

The Popularity of Biofuel

While biofuel has been popularized for its undeniable environmental benefits, its history and use go back long before we were faced with a global environmental crisis caused by our reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, Rudolph Diesel, the engineer after whom the diesel engine is named, powered an engine he built for the 1900 World Exposition with peanut oil.

Advantages

There are so many advantages to using biodiesel over conventional fossil fuel based diesel, it is hard to know where to begin the list. The ever-rising cost of fuel is always a concern and that is as good a reason as any to try biodiesel in your home boiler. In the dead of winter, we use a tremendous amount of fuel in our boilers. Biodiesel is significantly cheaper than traditional diesel fuel.

Aside from the cost factor, there are the environmental factors to consider. Fossil fuel is a limited resource that took millions of years to produce. Biodiesel, on the other hand, can be made from stock that grows in a matter of months. Furthermore, the growing process replaces carbon dioxide emissions that are created in the process of burning the fuel. Diesel oil, in contrast, only emits carbon dioxide and does irreparable damage to our environment.

Easy to Produce

Biodiesel is easy to make at home. Only a handful of chemicals are necessary and there are no expensive refining costs involved. Some care needs to be taken when mixing the chemicals, because they are caustic, but they are perfectly safe when used with caution and are common chemicals. In a nutshell, you make it by mixing methanol or ethanol with vegetable oil. Then, using lye (sodium hydroxide) as a catalyst, you get your diodiesel.

An Inexpensive Process

Many people hesitate to use biodiesel in their home boilers because they mistakenly believe that they will have to do extensive and expensive retrofitting to their existing boiler. The truth of the matter is that no retrofitting whatsoever needs to be done! Generally speaking, new users start off very cautiously, using only a 2% mixture, but after they become confident, they increase the mixture to approximately 20% biodiesel to 80% conventional diesel.

Precautions

The only real extra precaution that needs to be taken with biofuels is in storage in cold climates. They have a higher pour point than normal diesel and so must be stored in the basement or some other place where they can stay relatively warm when temperatures drop below zero.

An Excellent Alternative

There really is no down side to using biofuel for your home boiler. It is cheap, efficient and is friendly to the environment. To top it off, studies have shown that boilers that use biodiesel run much cleaner, saving users a great deal of time and money cleaning their boilers.

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