In a way, the cars are born with biofuels. In 1853 scientists E. Duffy and J. Patrick realized the vegetable oil transesterification process from which is derived biodiesel. The use of biodiesel, however, became known in the World Exhibition in Paris in 1898, when Rudolf Diesel used it to fuel the engine of the same name of his invention constructed five years ago (10 August 1893). To celebrate this anniversary was declared August 10 the International Day of biodiesel even if, in reality, Rudolf Diesel did not use the occasion transesterified biodiesel yet simple peanut oil. The same Rudolf Diesel in a public statement of 1912 considered biofuels derived from biomass and vegetable oils a major asset as much as oil.

Forgetfulness of biodiesel in the ’20s

Biodiesel experienced a period of decline, dictated more by reasons of cost or technical nature in the 20s of the twentieth century. The petrodiesel was cheaper compared to biodiesel. Automakers began to adapt the engines to the lower viscosity of the fossil fuel and biofuel slowly went into a kind of oblivion. Mass production allowed the oil industry to achieve significant economies of scale and lower average costs. Conversely, the inadequate production of biofuels made them even more expensive and little used.

The rediscovery in the 70s

Biofuels were back during the oil crisis of the 70s. Concern about the depletion of fossil reserves and global warming prompted Western governments to the rediscovery of biodiesel and bioethanol.

Biodiesel between EU goals

Since early 2000, the European Union has set up a biodiesel recovery plan to reach up to 20% of the satisfaction of domestic fuel demand. In countries like France biodiesel, it is known as diester and produced by the transesterification of rapeseed. It is mixed up with 5% of the diesel fuel, and the domestic automakers are experimenting thrusters able to use biodiesel up to 50%. But few countries have fulfilled the commitments set by the European Directive.