Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The History Of Biodiesel: Is The Past Our Future

By Bob Hobson

Amid all the panic regarding the diminishing supplies of fossil fuel as well as its expense. What would you say, if I told you that the history of biodiesel tells us that the knowledge of this renewable energy source has been available for hundreds of years? They are just as effective as petroleum and they are manufactured from renewable sources such as peanut, canola, hemp and soybean oil.

Rudolph Diesel who designed diesel driven motors was the first to make use of renewable energy from plant sources. He used peanut oil to manufacture a product which would drive his engines. He also understood the importance of not becoming dependent on fossil fuels and wanted to prove that renewable sources were better.

Henry Ford was another propundit of biofuels manufactured from fatty acids. He knew these oils were able to produce ethanol and methanol and that vehicle engine could drive safely on these fuels. He also profoundly believed that renewable sources of energy were the future of fuel. He wanted every vehicle his company built to be powered by these.

Henry Ford even purpose built a factory to manufacture biofuels from natural oils and entered into partnerships with other manufacturers of natural oils. Soon petroleum companies started advertising their products and as they were cheaper in the 1940's, this put paid to the idea of biofuels.

Hemp has been grown for its many properties and it was grown in the US to provide a source for oil to create biofuels. It was found that substances such as peanut and soyabean oil were only able to create small amounts of biofuel, whereas hemp manufactured bigger quantities. Henry Ford realized this substance could be used to revitalize his oil manufacturing plant.

At the same time the discovery of oil had started in the US and entrepreneurs owned these. They also became very rich by supplying oil to petroleum companies. These entrepreneurs did not want Henry Ford to have a share of this market with his hemp oil fuel and campaigned against it, calling the fuel Marijuana. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst became engaged in a campaign to negate this product and was instrumental in getting the Marijuana Tax Act enacted.

This campaign was supported by the newspapers of William Randolph Hurst and he had a great amount of sway with the US government. This campaign got the Marijuana Tax Act brought into legislation and people who used hemp oil products were afraid to use it as a certificate was require for any products of this nature. The Government would not issue certificates to anyone and as far as the history of biodiesel goes, this is where the manufacture of this renewable energy source came to an end.

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