Rudolph Diesel

The first modern usage of biofuels can be linked back to Rudolf Diesel in 1897 when he successfully created the first diesel engine to run on peanut oil. Initially, his plans were to enhance the petroleum engine invented by Nikolaus Otto to run on a compression-ignition technique. He had successfully made the engine, but had conflicts while trying to promote it to the world. Yet he still had to correct his mistake from his prototype engine, and once he had fixed those mistakes he had become a millionaire since his diesel engine had a mechanical efficiency of 75% compared to steam engines that had a 10% mechanical efficiency. Now, the diesel engine is used in trucks, ships, submarines, etc. (Citation 1)


Henry Ford

After Robert Diesel had invented his diesel engine, Henry Ford got involved as well and came up with the Model T Ford in 1908. The Model T Ford was the first flexible-fuel automobile of its kind, since it ran on petroleum, ethanol, or acombination of both. Ford had also predicted that cars in the future would run on fruits, weeds, sawdust, or anything that could possibly be fermented. But, as petroleum gained popularity ethanol wasn't used in his car as much as petroleum was. However, Ford had tried its best to become eco-friendly, so by the 1920's they had aligned with Standard Oil and 25% of their oil supply was not petroleum.

(Citation 6)





Gaining Popularity


Biofuels did seem to gain popularity in history during oil shortages or when oil prices shot up, for example in World War II or during the oil crises in the 1970's.However, the new diesel engines that were being mass-produced at that time could not use biofuels as a source of fuel because the biofuels had a high viscosity level that the diesel engines could not handle. However,in 1937, a Belgian inventor had come up with a process called transesterification in which vegetable oils are converted into fatty acid alkyl esters. In this process, vegetable oil is reacted with alcohol and lye and the product of this chemical reaction is biodiesel. This biodiesel is less viscous and is used in modern diesel engines. Transesterification is the foundation for the production of modern biofuels because if it wasn't for that process, biofuels wouldn't be eligible to run in modern engines. (Citation 7)





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