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Alternative Fuels, Ethanol and Biofuels

Roberto A. Fortunati, Mining and Oil and Gas Law, Development, and Investment - Book 2 (2007)

We all know that biodiesel -a type of biofuel- has recently become the new star of the renewable fuels, specially in Argentina and Brazil where it seems as if everything that lives in the countryside can be liquefied and fed into our fuel tanks.

However, the usage of biofuels as a substitute of fossil fuels dates back to the dawn of diesel engines. In fact, in 1900 when Mr. Rudolf Diesel presented the engine that bears his name in the Paris Exposition, he did not use any fossil fuel. Instead, he fueled his first machine with nothing more and nothing less than a biofuel made out of peanut oil. Hence, if Mr. Diesel was here with us today, he would surely be smiling at us and saying: “You people have walked a long way back to my peanuts!”. Anyway, the fact is that while Diesel's name had been immortalized with his engine, his peanuts had been buried in barrels of petroleum. However, the tide seems to be turning and as petroleum reservoirs go dryer and oil price sky rocket, the world turns its sight back to old good diesel peanuts.

II. Some facts

(a) What do we understand by fuels? Why are they considered to be clean?

So as to help better understanding of this new wave I will mention some basic facts about biofuels that although being usually understated as facts of common knowledge they might not be so “common” to everyone.

The prefix “