Who Wants Diesel ?

My grand father purchased a T-Model Ford and took it for a jungle trip to terai jungles during 1930’s. On the way back fuel finished and driver got some food oil(mostly mustard) from tribal village inside the forest. It ran smoothly with lights bright all the way back to the city of Gonda(UP). Family who were waiting anxiously for him for several hours could not recognise it as it sounded and glowed differently. Unfortunately we could not see the historic vehicle as it was sold for mere 45 rupees after few years.

Image result for t model ford

Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp; he actually ran the thing on peanut oil for the 1900 World’s Fair. Henry Ford used hemp to not only construct cars but also fuel them. Hemp fuel is biodegradable; so oil spills become fertilizer not eco-catastrophes. Hemp fuel does not contribute to sulphur dioxide air poisoning. Other noxious emissions like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are radically slashed by using “biodiesel.

Oils from plants needs to undergo trans esterification to become bio diesel  which is an expensive process as the cost and time involved is much more but using straight vegetable oils(mostly non-palatable) blended with petro diesel can give us some time to innovate. This blend reduces pollution to some extent as it reduces the toxic gasses produced .

When vegetable oil is used directly as a fuel, in either modified or unmodified equipment, it is referred to as straight vegetable oil (SVO) or pure plant oil (PPO). Conventional diesel engines can be modified to help ensure that the viscosity of the vegetable oil is low enough to allow proper atomization of the fuel. This prevents incomplete combustion, which would damage the engine by causing a build-up of carbon. Straight vegetable oil can also be blended with conventional diesel or processed into biodiesel or bioliquids for use under a wider range of conditions.

Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone, or blended with petrodiesel in any proportions

Technical comparison of Biodiesel and Petro-diesel

Specification Petro-diesel Biodiesel
Engine modification No change No change in blends
Safety of storage Risky since inflammable Safe since high flash point
Combustion point (degree Celsius) 550C 1920C
Engine maintenance Lubricant needed Self lubricant
Exhaust gases CO2 + CO + SO2 + NO2 CO2 + NO2
Kinematic viscosity (CentiStokes) 4.8 cSt 2.0-8.0 cSt
Calorific value (energy in joules) 48.1MJ/kg 38.86MJ/kg
Fuel price (2Q 2013) Rs.48.00/ltr Rs.58.00/ltr

Source: Tree Oils India | http://thealternative.in/environment/biodiesel-the-future-of-sustainable-fuels/

B20 or the blend of -diesel with straight vegetable oil (SVO-non eatable like neem mahua or pongamia or palm soya corn oils) in a ratio of 80:20 gives 20 % less CO and SO2 as bio fuels burn cleaner then petro fuels. It also decreases need for engine oils.


In 2015 Karnataka Chief minister inaugurated buses using B20 for the state transport and the figures shown for decrease in cost and pollution are very promising (read).


From a fleet of 8200 buses KSRTC planed to operate 1500 ones on bio fuel. If bio-diesel is introduced to all buses in state it could  save 55 crore a year. Following calculation is based on the fuel prices of that  year but it gives a good idea of savings even if 25 buses are run of bio fuels. Benefits are not only monetary but also the reduction of pollutants.(Taken from KSRTC website)

[Cost of 1 Litre Diesel is Rs.57.49, Bio diesel is Rs.52.49. Per day per vehicle required 190 Litre of diesel. 25 V vehicle Per day 4750 litre of diesel and per amount 17,33,750 Litre of diesel the cost of diesel for 25 buses per annum is Rs 9,96,73,288=00 and Bio Diesel is Rs. 9,10,04,538=oo Total Savings if we use Complete bio diesel is Rs 86,68,750=00.]

Currently Karnataka has fleet of 26 buses running on bio fuels(B100) and 1500 on 20% biofuels (B20). B100 busses are used in intercity travel to nearby pilgrimage like Tirupathy.  In Jan 2017 the running of  these busses suffered a set back due to lack of bio fuels. The fleet requires 8.5 million litres of biodiesel annually that is supplied from 17 depots around the state.

These efforts have been successful as Bangalore is the only metro where pollution level is still in the green in comparison to other metro cities of India. Most of the News channels show this comparisons every morning.

With all these advantages why is biofuel not being used in place of fossil fuels? The answer is the cost both obvious and hidden ones. It has a large investment and operations cost with lower yield.  It can also damage the environment where forests are cut to grow fuel crops. farm land can also get reduced further increasing the shortage/cost of food. How is it possible then to reduce pollution by fossil fuels? Answer-agroforestry and symbiotic farming.

There are many options for plant oil based fuels all across the world. Best ones should be indigenous to the land, hardy ,needing little or no care with high yield and several by-products. It should also not compete with regular farming rather complement it. Agro-forestry with such indigenous trees can solve the problem of biofuel production locally, increase self-sufficiency and employment  and reduce pollution to a greater extent. India is lucky to have one such biofuel producing tree which can survive with very less water and even grow on poisonous soils of landfills. Read more here. 




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The “crude” truth — diesel engines — oil companies’ great fear

henry ford’s hemp car:video: ford & diesel used hemp oil






A physicist turned green living advocate.

Welcome! Fellow Green Living Enthusiast

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