The sulfur in a diesel fuel is burned to SO2. Some of that SO2 is further oxidized to sulfates, which bind with water to form a portion of the particulate matter. Because only 1 to 2% of the fuel sulfur is converted to sulfates, the contribution of sulfates to the total particulates is only a few percent with current low-sulfur diesel.2 If an oxidation
catalyst is used to reduce emissions of hydrocarbons, CO, and particulate matter, the SO2 can be oxidized to sulfates by the catalyst. The result is a significant increase
in particulate emissions.
Biodiesel fuel currently is more costly than regular diesel fuel. Some of this expense, but probably not all, may be offset by expected reductions in maintenance costs. Also, the price of biodiesel fuel is expected to drop if it becomes more widely used
Commercial experience with biodiesel has been very promising 5 . Biodiesel performs as well as petroleum diesel, while reducing emissions of particulate matter, CO, hydrocarbons and SOx. Emissions of NOx are, however, higher for biodiesel in many engines. Biodiesel virtually eliminates the notorious black soot emissions associated with diesel engines. Total particulate matter emissions are also much lower 6,7,8 .
Other environmental benefits of biodiesel include the fact that it is highly biodegradable 9 and that it appears to reduce emissions of air toxics and carcinogens (relative to petroleum diesel)10 .
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