A study showed that coconut oil could be used as biodiesel: renewable and alternative energy for a diesel engine. The study findings suggest that coconut oil biodiesel is capable of running an engine and other properties showed promising results.
Production of biodiesel from coconut oil may be higher compared to soybean and rapeseed. Still, energy output, fuel consumption rate, and lubrication property of coconut biodiesel are better than the two aforementioned plant-based biodiesel.
A study showed that coconut oil could be used as biodiesel: a renewable and alternative fuel for a diesel engine. The study findings suggest that coconut oil biodiesel is capable of running an engine and other properties showed promising results.
As the demand for energy and power is dramatically increasing, depletion of fossil supply is also inevitable. Most countries source their fossil fuels from other countries. Finding local, renewable energy has become a necessary action to reduce dependency on imported fuel.
In tropical countries like Bangladesh, where the study was done, coconuts are widely grown. Thus the authors experimented with testing the possibility of coconut oil as biodiesel.
An experiment was done to study the performance of a small diesel engine using various blends of biodiesel from coconut oil.
The study revealed that although the coconut biodiesel has slightly different properties from diesel fuel, it is capable of running the engine.
Authors of the study are Md A. Hossain, Shabab M. Chowdhury, Yamin Rekhu, Khandakar S. Faraz, Monzur Ul Islam, and the study was published on World Academy of Science, Engineering, and Technology on December 2012.
Making the Coconut Oil Biodiesel
Vegetable oil as biodiesel has been tried on various plants over the years. The first use of vegetable oil in a compression ignition engine used peanut oil in a diesel engine. Oils from coconut, soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut, linseed, rapeseed, and palm oil have also experimented.
It found out the prolonged use of vegetable oil can lead to injector coking and thickening of crankcase oil which causes the piston ring to stick. Because of this, vegetable oils are not used in SI engines.
Various methods of vegetable oil modification were made to address the said concern. For coconut oil, transesterification converted the oil into esters, separating glycerin from the main product. The glycerin floats on top of the biodiesel, and it is decanted off.
Impurities from the coconut biodiesel were then removed.
Properties of Coconut Biodiesel
Several experiments on biodiesel from coconut oil showed that its fuel properties are at par with the conventional fossil diesel. Various blends with biodiesel and petroleum diesel were done.
The researchers noted the following properties, which showed that coconut biodiesel is at par with petroleum diesel. Various properties such as heating value, viscosity, and a flashpoint of coconut oil biodiesel blends and petroleum diesel were also compared in this experiment.
The study also indicated that the cost of running a diesel engine with biodiesel blends is expensive compared to petroleum diesel fuel. However, the researchers said that the cost could reduce if methanol is recycled after the transesterification reaction. This study also used processed coconut oil, and the study team thinks that using the unprocessed one can reduce production costs.
Developing countries are suffering from energy crises, and biodiesel is a promising renewable, alternative source of fuel. The study team noted that production costs for biodiesel are high, but it is friendly to the environment and a potential source of renewable energy.
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