First biofuel engines fully operational in 1893
While many people tend to believe that biofuel cars and other biomass-powered engines are a modern trend in fact they date back to even before petroleum-based vehicles and machinery established themselves as the primary mode of transportation and source or power in our modern societies.
Debuting in Augsburg, Germany on August 10, 1893, engineer Rudolph Diesel unveiled his first biofuel engine and a mere seven years later received Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair (the highest prize attainable at that time) for his adaptation of his design to a readily usable motor vehicle. At that time the car ran primarily on peanut oil, though a number of different vegetable oils were seen as compatible with the vehicle’s engine designs.
Later on in the 1920’s Rudolph Diesel’s original design was modified to utilize petroleum-based fuel rather than the original vegetable oils due to the fact that petroleum at that time was highly affordable and readily available on the market. This led to the boon of the usage of the Diesel engine in the market and in 1023 the first even diesel truck was seen on the streets.
The viability of utilizing vegetable oils and other natural fuels was never lose to Rudolph Diesel, however. In fact in his 1912 speech about the viability of utilizing biofuels rather than relying purely on petroleum his stated that he foresaw that one day biofuels may come to be as important as – or even more important than – the petroleum and tar-based fuels commonly used at that time despite its then rather seeming insignificance.
Today diesel engines are still the most readily adaptable engine designs, though most still have difficulties in handling the crude biofuels originally used by Diesel’s earlier engines. Instead they tend to work better with the more refined biofuel products that can be attributed to G. Chavanne from the University of Brussels, Belgium in 1937 with his patent of what was referred to as the “transesterification of vegetable oils”. Specifically this referred to the generation of alcohol substances from biomass, including the production of ethanol and methanol, and is generally seen as the foundation upon which modern biofuel production are founded.
Today biofuel production and focus is drawing a large crowd from around the world, and with the even growing concern of depleting petroleum reserves it is only expected to continue to grow in the future as the market shifts away from its once readily available fuel source and back to the original fuel that has provided the backbone for many industries around the world.