Fries and Fuel
The beautiful Hawaiian Islands have many positive features. However, a nearby source of petroleum products is not one of them. The islands are over 2000 miles away from the nearest oil refinery, so the Hawaiians need to import all their petroleum products. Gas prices in Honolulu are currently about 20 cents a gallon more than they are in Los Angeles. The availability of alternative fuels sources would play a significant role in reducing Hawaiian dependency on imported gas and oil.
News You Can Use
- Biofuels are a category of materials made primarily from organic or food waste products. In order to be classified as a biofuel, the product must contain at least 80% renewable materials. A major biofuel is ethanol, produced by fermentation of corn or other agricultural products. The ethanol is generally mixed with regular gasoline (“gasohol”) and is quite often used in areas of the country with very cold temperatures to enhance combustion. Ethanol is often fairly corrosive and can do damage to car engines.
- Biodiesel is produced from renewable materials such as vegetable oil. Although it can be used by itself if the engine is properly set up, biodiesel is more commonly used as a blend with regular gasoline. This fuel produces lower CO2 levels than gasoline and fewer pollutants. The fuel economy at present is not as good for biodiesel as it is with gasoline.
- The manufacture of biodiesel involves a transesterification reaction between long-chain fatty acids (found in vegetable oil) and an alcohol such as methanol or ethanol. The fatty acid is hydrolyzed from the glycerol backbone and then reacted with an excess of the alcohol. The glycerol can then be separated and used in other processes.
- Watch a video on research in bioenergy at the link below:
Use the links below to learn more about biofuels. Then answer the following questions.
- What is a major biofuel used in many parts of the world?
- What are energy considerations that must be taken into account with biofuels?
- What fraction of total highway fuel demand in Hawaii is expected to be provided by alternative fuels by 2015?
- Why is KOH added to the vegetable oil sample?