Biodiesel : pour alimenter nos futures fermes
Le biodiesel, est un carburant fait à partir d'huiles végétales, de
suif de bœuf qui démontre aux fermiers qu'il existe déjà une solution
à la montée des coûts des carburants; une solution qui pousse et qui se
nourrit sur leurs propres pâturages.
Le biodiesel peut aussi être fait à partir des déchets d'huiles
végétales provenant des restaurants et des friteuses de toutes sortes.
Actuellement, il n'y a pas de source facilement accessible de biodiesel
au NB. Mais le Centre Falls Brook travaille sur des plans pour mettre en
place une usine de production de biodiesel dans la région.
Fuel for our Future Farms
By Michael Westlake,
Renewable Energy Program Coordinator,
Falls Brook Centre
the last few months, New Brunswick has witnessed the price of diesel
fuel jump nearly 12% (compared to its cost this time last year). Of
all consumers, the agricultural industry takes one of the hardest
blows. In Europe, soy and canola is booming and farmers are taking
advantage of lower fuel costs - partly thanks to a well-supported
renewable fuel industry.
(photo: Falls Brook Centre)
Biodiesel, a fuel that can be made from vegetable oil, beef tallow
or feedstock, is proving to farmers that they already have a solution
to rising fuel costs, a solution that is growing and grazing in their
own fields. In addition to crops being grown in farmer's fields,
biodiesel is also made with waste vegetable oil that can be recycled
from restaurants and fryers. The result is a higher lubricating fuel
that can be used in any diesel engine without conversion, and results
in less maintenance and quicker biodegradability.
Biodiesel treats the environment about as well as it treats one's
tank. It features emission reductions of major greenhouse gases, which
are directly linked to climate change, at more than eighty percent
that of petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel has additional advantages in
that it produces a nominal amount of soot or PAHs (polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons), major carcinogens which contribute to respiratory
disorders such as asthma.
Much of the global biodiesel supply is being produced from canola
oil, a commodity whose production in New Brunswick is rapidly
increasing. In Canada, a five-year average of 6(10)6 tons of canola
oil are produced each year, with an oil yield of nearly 40% of the
bulk weight. This translates to an availability of approximately
2.5(10)6 tons of raw canola oil being produced in Canada per year.
There emerges a debate, though, as to whether we should commit
fertile cropland towards fuel production over food. With New
Brunswick's major crop being potatoes, you can bet that the major
potato processing companies in New Brunswick are churning out a lot of
waste vegetable oil. While much of this deep-frying oil is being
streamed into dumps and the secondary oil market, therein lies a
viable source for biodiesel production.
Despite this vast availability of waste vegetable oil, the question
remains: Will farmers make the switch to biodiesel from their trusted
petroleum diesel? I had the opportunity to speak with Weitze Dykstra,
of Dykstra Farms. Dykstra operates a dairy farm just outside of
Knowlesville and is excited about the potential benefits biodiesel can
have for his operation. "Any way in which waste can be re-used
makes practical sense," he said. His farm equipment includes two
Case tractors and a John Deere.
Case International officially approves the use of biodiesel in
blends up to five percent in their engines and assures farmers that
its use will not affect the engine warranty. John Deere also approves
all blends under five percent and further stipulate that its
"engines are equipped with fuel injection pumps that are
compatible with Biodiesel". Both company websites further offer
tips on biodiesel usage, storage, purchasing, and maintenance for
farmers. In field trials with John Deere tractors, it was found that
the viscous fan, automated to engage when cooling needs are essential,
always operated with biodiesel blends while seldomly engaging with
100% petroleum diesel. Although it was found that engine power was
reduced, this decline was found to be marginal, 1-3%, in comparison to
Biodiesel does have its drawbacks on farm equipment. Fuel
efficiency, for instance, suffers a 7% decrease and cold starting
tendencies are at somewhat higher temperatures. But these
discrepancies are offset by biodiesel's higher combustion efficiency
(a 7% increase) and lower energy balance ratio (energy input compared
to energy output).
Most companies require that biodiesel meet regulatory
specifications in order for it to be certifiable for engine use. In
particular, the criterion set out by the American Standards and
Testing Measures (ASTM) ensure standardized levels of the fuel's
viscosity (how quickly it gels in the cold) and its rate of ignition.
As for fueling your tank with biodiesel in New Brunswick, there is
no readily available source. As biofuel and biotech companies begin
slowly sprouting biodiesel production operations across the country,
and the government leisurely greases its wheels, the best bet for
rapid advancement of the fuel is community-scale production; farmers,
rural dwellers, and community cooperatives are taking the lead on
igniting production towards fuelling our future. Recognizing this, the
Falls Brook Centre is currently working on plans for a biodiesel
production facility in the local area. As a recent study appearing in
Bioresource Technology asserted, there is a need "to have this
added value [of biodiesel from food products] go to farmers and rural
economies instead of to specific national companies."