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The world is increasingly accepting the fact that conventional sources of fuel and energy are being rapidly depleted and cannot be renewed.

Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels or bio-fuels for use as an alternative fuel in cars, trucks, buses, aircraft and trains. Ethanol and bio-diesel are the two most common types of bio-fuel.

Ethanol is an alcohol, just like that found in beer and wine. It is made by fermenting any biomass high in carbohydrates (starches, sugars or celluloses) through a process similar to brewing beer. It is mainly used as a fuel additive to cut down carbon monoxide and other smog-causing emissions from vehicles. today, however, flexible-fuel vehicles which run on mixtures of gasoline and up to 85% ethanol are available.

Bio-diesel is made by combining alcohol (usually methanol) with vegetable oil, animal fat or recycled cooking greases. It can be used as an additive to reduce vehicle emissions (typically 20%) or in its pure form as a renewable alternative fuel for diesel engines.

Bio-diesel is the popular name for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME). It is fuel from plant oil, produced from the transesterification of vegetable oils, used to remove glycerol from the base oil. It can be used in pure form but is often blended with regular diesel. The most common form is a blend of 20% bio-diesel and 80% petroleum diesel, to reduce emissions (CO, CO2, aromatic hydrocarbons, SO2, particulates), reduce knocking and improve lubricity. It is bio-degradable and non-toxic, and used as transportation fleets, marine fleets and mines because of lower emissions. Bio-diesel is considered to be the lowest-cost strategy in complying with state and federal regulations, as it does not require major engine modifications.

Palm-based methyl esters have been extensively tested as a substitute for diesel in taxis, buses, lorries, tractors and stationary engines. The data available to date indicate that cold starting is easy and engines run smoothly with less smoke and reduced content of carbon particles in the exhaust fumes. The use of palm methyl esters as a diesel substitute contrast with the use of crude palm oil which does not require any modification of the engines. The economic viability of palm methyl ester as a diesel substitute will depend on the costs of diesel, crude palm oil and glycerin.

Outlook: Biodiesel Impact on the Palm Oil Industry
Palm Palm Oil Advantage in Biodiesel

Palm Diesel: Green and Renewable Fuel from Palm Oil
Palm Biodiesel: Gearing Towards Malaysian Biodiesel Standards
Malaysian Biodiesel Policy