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There is a slow but growing realization that crude oil is our weakness component in Australia’s energy portfolio. Australia’s domestic reserves of heavy crude oil, which is essential in the production of petroleum diesel, it expected to reach exhaustion by 2012 on current usage patterns. A need to become more heavily dependant on import crude oil will impact on our balance of trade and further expose our transport and rural sectors to international oil price fluctuations.

Biodiesel is widely known an excellent alternative to mineral diesel and has been extensively demonstrated in the EC and the United States. It is a renewable fuel made by reacting 20 parts of Canola oil with one part methanol or ethanol (grain alcohol), injecting hot water through the mixture and allowing to cool. The Biodiesel naturally separates from the water solution, with no further refining or processing required. Biodiesel has the same combustion properties as regular diesel with considerably lower levels of polluting emissions (appendix 1). Bio-diesel has been found to be a cleaner fuel than diesel, resulting in lower engine maintenance costs and that it can be used in current diesel engines with virtually no modification.

The production and use Biodiesel has not been explored to any great lengths in Australia. The Department of Agriculture WA has undertaken an initiative to lead the development of this promising biofuel sector and improve the economic fundamentals for Biodiesel production and use in Western Australia.

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Oilseeds, Research, Development, Western Australia