Biodiesel has attracted lots of attention as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. There’s a wide range of potential uses for biodiesel, but processing it into a usable form remains a challenge. This post will examine how we may use biodiesel in the near future and the heating methods and equipment needed to make it feasible.
“Biodiesel” refers to any biofuel that can replace traditional diesel as a fuel source. Biofuels are usually the byproducts of animal fats or vegetable oil compounds, which gain combustible properties when processed. Unlike traditional fossil fuels, they emit significantly fewer emissions, hence why there’s widespread interest to use them as fuel sources. With that said, there’s a varied spectrum of applications that biodiesel can serve.
Of course, the uses of biofuels surpass these four examples. It’s conceivably possible to replace any fuel source with them, provided they’re properly formulated and heated using the right methods.
The benefits of biofuels are holistic, presenting benefits on a global, local, and personal scale. That comes from the fact they’re derived from organic materials that don’t naturally release harmful emissions when burned.
The production and use of biofuels don’t come without challenges. Although the industrial use of biofuels has increased sharply over the years, there are still some constraints that make wider adoption of these fuels difficult.
Another challenge associated with biofuel usage is finding heaters that can burn them for efficient heating. The chemical composition and thermodynamic properties of biofuels can make them too harsh for a heater (assuming the wrong heater or heating settings are used).
For example, one North American producer of biofuels found their immersion heaters would frequently fail when heating biodiesel. Lab analysis showed that the issue stemmed from the fuel’s caustic properties, which were excessive for the heater.
However, we made some alterations to their immersion heaters, such as lowering the watt density and adding a thicker, stainless steel sheath. That enabled them to heat biofuels with a far lower failure rate.
A key takeaway from this example is heating biodiesel doesn’t have to be an additional challenge. It’s a matter of analyzing the fuel you intend to use to understand its properties and then adjusting your heater to heat it optimally.
Here at Wattco, we build custom heaters that will heat a biofuel to match its thermal properties so that neither the fuel nor the heater is damaged. We may do this using various methods, including the ones mentioned above such as adjusting wattages and sheath materials. Of course, certain heaters may be more suitable for biofuel heating, and we make recommendations for those as well.
Get a quote for your biofuel-friendly heater today. Our representatives will help you find the exact setup needed for your industrial needs.