'Peak Oil' is a term used to express when the maximum level of oil can be extracted from the earth. The worldwide rate of conventional crude oil production peaked at the end of 2004, and has remained between 72 and 74 million barrels per day (mbpd) ever since. The subsequent tripling of oil prices did not bring new oil to market a classic signal of peak oil. Oil discovery is in decline and the world has reached the point at which new drilling has failed to increase the maximum level of extraction.
Renewable fuels such as Biodiesel can solve many of the concerns that are raised by suggestions of peak oil. The first concern is if renewable fuels can be used in established technology; the benefit of Biodiesel is that there is little to modifications necessary in the modern diesel motor. The second issue is the ability for renewables to fill the gap between using fossil fuels and finding a new energy source.
A well-publicised study jointly sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture, concluded an 80% reduction in carbon net emissions were obtained over the full life cycle. This was based on a study using Soy oil as the feedstock for Biodiesel.
The level of CO2 life cycle emissions for biodiesel will depend on the type of feedstock used and the assumptions made in the production process. The Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) has published data for calculating this based on research undertaken by the CSIRO. Mineral diesel emits 2.67kg of CO2eq per litre of mineral diesel used, whereas based on CSIRO data, and the average blend of feedstock (ie 50% Used Cooking Oil, 25% tallow, and 25% Canola Oil), Biodiesel emits 0.73 kg CO2eq per litre of biodiesel used (73% reduction).
One of the byproducts from the manuFACTure of Biodiesel is glycerine. Glycerine has been traditionally used in the skin care and soap industries, and is also a valuable source of carbon that can be used in the wastewater industries as a source of BOD. Experimentation into the use of glycerine in the neutraceutical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, assist the Biodiesel industry to be environmentally conscious with a closed-oop production zero waste industry.