Early History of Biodiesel Production 


  • . Historically, Rudolf Diesel demonstrated a Diesel engine running on peanut oil in 1900. In 1912, Diesel stated, "the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal-tar products of the present." During the 1920’s, diesel engines were modified to run on low cost petroleum as opposed to higher cost viscous vegetable oil. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, researchers continued to explore biofuels, but they encountered problems of poor atomization with deposits choking the injectors, combustion chamber and valves. In Brussels in 1937, Chavanne patented a procedure of using methanol to produce the first “biodiesel”. In South Africa in 1979, sunflower oil was converted to biodiesel, and by 1983 the process for producing fuel-quality engine tested biodiesel was published. From 1978-1996, the US "Aquatics Species Program” focused on the production of biodiesel from high lipid-content algae grown in ponds using waste CO2 from coal-fired power plants. Thoughout the 1990’s, rapeseed biodiesel plants opened across Europe and is now available at  many European service stations. In 2005, Minnesota became the first state requiring diesel to be blended with biodiesel.


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