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The US Government has created the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. This tax credit allows for a personal tax credit
for Solar Water Heating, Solar Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, and other Solar electric technology.

 

Biodiesel Fuels

Biodiesel is a newly popularized technology that skirts around our reliance on fossil fuel. Rather than being produced from non-renewable resources, it's based on common vegetable or animal oils. Biodiesel is still a pollutant, but its negative effects on the environment are fewer than those of generic diesel fuel.

Biodiesel can be distilled at home with three basic ingredients: oil, methanol and lye. It's a caustic, toxic mix, but it produces two benign products at the end: biodiesel, which is non-toxic and biodegradable; and glycerin, which is a common soap base. If you're interested in brewing a batch of your own, Christina and Scott Gable offer a thorough step-by-step guide at www.about.com.

Environmental Advantages

Fossil fuels dump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when we burn them in our cars, but they also contribute to our global pollution rate during the processes of extraction, distillation and distribution. Biodiesel is also a pollutant, but it has several redeeming factors.

Biodiesel emits fewer greenhouse gases and harmful particles when it burns, and it produces no dangerous byproducts during its distillation. Furthermore, since vegetable-based biodiesel is based on plant life, and plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, the main ingredient in biodiesel actually helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. This helps to offset the effect of its emissions, bringing it closer to being a "carbon-neutral" fuel.

Commercial Use

Fuel companies have jumped onto the biodiesel bandwagon, offering blends of bio- and regular diesel at some pumps. Biodiesel is marked by a B, followed by the percentage of biodiesel in the fuel mix. B5 is five percent biodiesel; B20 is 20 percent biodiesel. Although cars can theoretically run on 100 percent biodiesel, today only these two blends are offered.

Commercial companies have hesitated to offer higher percentages of biodiesel in their mixes because biodiesel tends to be more caustic than generic diesel. Non-synthetic rubber parts have been known to corrode under exposure from biodiesel. It also tends to scour the inside of the engine - not to the point of damaging the car, but it will clean off any buildup inside the engine. While this is good in the long run, it can cause temporary problems with clogging.

Biodiesel also tends to gel in cold weather, so mixing it with generic diesel and adding anti-gelling agents is imperative during the winter.

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