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clean-fuel Glossary


Algae – Algae are primitive plants, usually aquatic, capable of synthesising their own food by photosynthesis. Algae is currently being investigated as a possible feedstock for producing biodiesel

B100 – B100 is another name for pure biodiesel.

Biobutanol – Biobutanol is an advantaged biofuel that offers a number of benefits over conventional clean-fuels. For example, biobutanol has an energy content closer to that of petroleum so consumers face less of a compromise on fuel economy. It can easily be added to conventional petrol due to low vapour pressure and can be blended at higher concentrations than bioethanol for use in standard vehicle engines. DuPont and BP are working together on a major project to produce biobutanol

Biodiesel – Biodiesel is a clean-fuel produced from various feedstocks including vegetable oils (such as oilseed, rapeseed and soya bean), animal fats, algae or the preferred Jatropha Curcas Oil. Biodiesel can be blended with diesel for use in diesel engine vehicles.

clean-fuel – The term clean-fuel applies to any solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel produced from organic (once-living) matter. The word clean-fuel covers a wide range of products, some of which are commercially available today, and some of which are still in research and development.

Biomass – Biomass is biological material, including corn, switchgrass, and oilseed crops, that can be converted into fuel

Bioreactor – A bioreactor is a vessel in which a chemical process occurs. This usually involves organisms or biochemically active substances derived from such organisms

BTL – BTL, or biomass-to-liquid,is a multi-step process which converts biomass into liquid clean-fuels. BTL is also referred to as second generation biodiesel production. There are many different methods of BTL, but many processes include Fischer-Tropsch, hydrogenation or pyrolysis.

By-product – A by-product is a substance, other than the principal product, generated as a consequence of creating a clean-fuel. For example, a by-product of biodiesel production is glycerine and a by-product of bioethanol production is DDGS

Catalyst – A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction, without being consumed or produced by the reaction. Enzymes are catalysts for many biochemical reactions.

Cetane number – The cetane number is a measure of biodiesel’s combustion quality

Conventional clean-fuels - Conventional clean-fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are typically made from corn, sugarcane and beet, wheat or oilseed crops such as soy rape and Jatropha Curcas.


DDGS – DDGS, or dried distillers grain with solubles is a by-product of dry mill ethanol production that is fed to livestock.

Emissions: Emissions are classed as any waste substances released into the air or water.

Enzyme: An enzyme is a protein or protein-based molecule that speeds up chemical reactions occurring in living things. Enzymes act as catalysts for a single reaction, converting a specific set of reactants into specific products.

FAME – FAME, or fatty acid methyl ester can be created by a catalysed reaction between fatty acids and methanol. The molecules in biodiesel are primarily FAMEs, usually obtained from vegetable oils by transesterification.

Fatty acid: A fatty acid is a carboxylic acid (an acid with a -COOH group) with long hydrocarbon side chains. Feedstocks are first converted to fatty acids and then to biodiesel

Feedstock – A feedstock is any biomass resource destined for conversion to energy or clean-fuel. For example, corn is a feedstock for ethanol production, Jatropha Curcas oil may be a feedstock for biodiesel and cellulosic biomass has the potential to be a significant feedstock source for clean-fuels.

Fischer-Tropsch – Fischer-Tropsch is one method of producing biodiesel, from natural gas or syngas from gasified coal or biomass

Fuel - A fuel is described as any material with one type of energy that can be converted to another usable energy.


Glycerine- Glycerine is a liquid by-product of biodiesel production. Glycerine is used in the manufacture of dynamite, cosmetics, liquid soaps, inks, and lubricants.

GTL – GTL, or gas to liquid, is a refinery process which converts natural gas into longer-chain hydrocarbons. Gas can be converted to liquid fuels via a direct conversion or using a process such as Fischer-Tropsch.

HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) – A pure hydrocarbon produced from vegetable oils and animal fats by catalytic hydrotreating triglycerides.

Iodine value – An iodine value is a measure of the number of unsaturated carbon-carbon double bonds in a vegetable oil molecule. In liquid clean-fuel applications this gives a lower cold filter plugging point (CFPP) or cloud point. While this makes it good for use in cooler temperatures, double bonds can allow polymerisation, leading to the formation of lacquers and possibly blockage and damage to engine or fuel train components.


Jatropha - Jatropha is a non-edible evergreen shrub found in Central America, Asia, Africa and the West Indies. Its seeds contain a high proportion of quality oil which can be used for making biodiesel.

Jatrophine - The latex of Jatropha contains an alkaloid known as "jatrophine" which is believed to have anti-cancerous properties. It is also used as an external application for skin diseases and rheumatism and for sores on domestic livestock. In additon, the tender twigs of the plant are used for cleaning teeth, while the juice of the leaf is used as an external application for piles. Finally, the roots are reported to be used as an antidote for snake-bites.


Methanol – Methanol is an alcohol containing one carbon atom per molecule, generally made from natural gas, with about half the energy density of petroleum. Methanol is used as a component in the transesterification of triglycerides to give a form of biodiesel.

MTBE – MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, is created from methanol and can increase octane and decrease the volatility of petroleum. It is often used as a petroleum additive because it raises the oxygen content of the fuel.

Nitrogen Oxides – Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) are a product of photochemical reactions of nitric oxide in ambient air, and are one type of emission produces from fuels.

Octane number - The octane rating of a fuel is indicated on the pump. The higher the number, the slower the fuel burns. Bioethanol typically adds two to three octane numbers when blended with ordinary petroleum – making it a cost-effective octane-enhancer.


Palm oil – Palm oil is a form of vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It is a widely used feedstock The palm oil and palm kernel oil are composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol just like any ordinary fat. Palm oil is a widely used feedstock for traditional biodiesel production.

Petroleum - Petroleum refers to any petroleum-based substance comprising of a complex blend of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through the process of separation, conversion, upgrading, and finishing, including motor fuel, jet oil, lubricants, petroleum solvents, and used oil.

Pyrolysis – Pyrolysis is one method of converting biomass into biodiesel, using heat.

Pyrolysis oil – Pyrolysis oil is a bio-oil produced by fast pyrolysis of biomass. It is a dark brown, mobile liquid containing much of the energy content of the original biomass, with a heating value about half that of conventional fuel oil. Conversion of raw biomass to pyrolysis oil represents a considerable increase in energy density and it can thus represent a more efficient form in which to transport it.

Rapeseed - Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape or (one particular artificial variety) canola, is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). Rapeseed is a tradition feedstock used for biodiesel production.

RTFO – RTFO, or the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, is a UK policy that places an obligation on fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain percentage of their aggregate sales is made up of clean-fuels. The effect of this will be to require 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts to come from a renewable source by 2010.


Second generation clean-fuels – Although definitions vary, second generation clean-fuels are usually considered to be clean-fuels produced from biomass or non-edible feedstocks.

Syngas – Syngas is a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) which is the product of high temperature gasification of organic material such as biomass. Following clean-up to remove any impurities such as tars, synthesis gas (syngas) can be used to synthesise organic molecules such as synthetic natural gas (SNG - methane (CH4)) or liquid clean-fuels such as synthetic diesel (via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis).

Switchgrass – Switchgrass is native to the US and known for its hardiness and rapid growth. It is often cited as a potentially abundant second generation feedstock for ethanol

Tallow – Tallow is another name for animal fat, which can be used as a feedstock for biodiesel production.

Transesterification – The name biodiesel has been given to transesterified vegetable oil to describe its use as a diesel fuel. The transesterification process involves mixing at room temperature methanol (50% excess) with NaOH (100% excess), then mixing vigorously with vegetable oil and letting the glycerol settle (about 15% of the biodiesel mix). The supernatant is biodiesel and contains a mixture of methylated fatty acids and methanol.


VOC –VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are air pollutants found in engine exhaust. Bioethanol helps reduce VOC emissions.


Yeast – Yeast is any of various single-cell fungi capable of fermenting carbohydrates. Bioethanol is produced by fermenting sugars with yeast.


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