Biodiesel: Blessing or environmental hazard?
The German inventor, Rudolf Diesel, already recognized the importance of bio-fuels in 1912. His vision was a locomotive engine powered by renewable plant based oils. During the 1920s locomotive manufacturers chose, however, to change their engines to utilize the lower viscosity of petro diesel, which ultimately replaced vegetable oils. It took about 60 years and advancements in biotechnology to make biodiesel technically and economically competitive to ordinary diesel. Biodiesel has earned a lot of praise in recent days and promises to be an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy source that will solve the problem of diminishing petrofuels in the future. However, propagators tend to ignore its negative aspects, such as solidification and toxicity at low temperatures, incompatibility with old diesel engines and high production and refining costs. Another controversy faced by biodiesel supporters is the issue of using larger areas of agricultural land for the biomass crop rather than food crops. The agriculture industry is focusing on fuel production at the expense of basic necessities, which ultimately harms developing countries. This paper will discuss positive, as well as negative aspects of this promising biotechnological advancement, its social, political, economic and health implications and conclude with some final thoughts on long-term applications.
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