The problem of switching to biofuels worries scientists around the world. We are talking about fuel obtained from biomass, that is, vegetable or animal raw materials. It serves both to generate electricity and fuel for various types of engines. Water transport is considered the most environmentally friendly than the same air or road transport. However, for river navigation, the substitution of fuels for ecological fuels continues to be highly relevant.
Like many other modes of transportation, riverboats now run on synthetic fuels. At the moment, the most common is diesel due to its traction power, as well as its low cost. The less viscous the diesel, the cheaper it is and… the more harmful to the environment. When this indicator is high, the diesel burns completely in the engine, leaving almost no traces in the atmosphere. However, excessive viscosity can generate products of incomplete combustion. Among them are nitrogen dioxide, benzene, various carcinogens, formaldehyde and others.
Diesel fuel is dangerous not only for the atmosphere: as a result of accidents or leaks, it gets into the water. When this happens, a film forms on the surface of the deposit, with all the ensuing consequences. Fish, waterfowl, and other living things can be killed. In addition, diesel tends to contaminate the reservoir throughout its depth. And it can take up to nine months to break down.
Therefore, the transition to biofuels is the most effective solution to a serious problem for transport in general. Experts have long been thinking about the possibility of obtaining this type of fuel: for example, it has been produced in Europe since 1992. By the way, in June of this year, British publications wrote that the inhabitants of Albion consume 17 thousand tons of vegetable oils daily. (equivalent to 19 million bottles), burning them in personal and public transport engines. As part of the same studies, it was found that, in addition to rapeseed liquids, the British pour another 14 million bottles of palm and soybean oil into the tanks of their cars every day. Naturally, not in a pure state, but as a fuel and all kinds of related products as additives…
There are various developments of biofuels, among which is the so-called biodiesel. Biodiesel can be obtained from the processing of vegetable and, more rarely, animal fats. It is completely biodegradable: it takes about a month for microorganisms to process this substance almost completely. Unlike conventional diesel, its eco-friendly type contains very little sulfur and, when burned, releases as much carbon dioxide as is needed to sustain the life of the plant from which this fuel was produced.
In addition to the environmental benefits, biodiesel, unlike conventional diesel, has good lubricating properties, which also affects engine life. Of the minuses: biodiesel is more difficult to store, as it tends to oxidize as a result of oxygen absorption, as well as absorb moisture.
In addition to biodiesel, there is also a substitute for conventional fuels such as natural gas. This is fairly new technology: in 2017, the number of natural gas vessels built and ordered was only 250 units. However, this type of fuel has undeniable advantages over diesel. Using it, you can completely get rid of the emission of sulfur oxides, reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90%, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30%.
The use of this type of fuel has been hampered so far by the unsuitability of the engines for it, as well as the fact that natural gas requires more (almost 4 times) storage space.