Fast depletion of the conventional petroleum-based fossil fuel reserves and the detrimental effects of the pollutant emissions associated with the combustion of these fuels in internal combustion (IC) engines propelled the exploration and development of alternative fuels for internal combustion engines. Biodiesel has been identified as one of the most promising alternative fuels for IC engines. This paper discusses about the advantages and disadvantages of biodiesel vis-a-vis the conventional petro-diesel and presents the energetic performances and emission characteristics of CI engine using biodiesel and biodiesel-petrodiesel blends as fuels. An overview of the current research works carried out by several researchers has been presented in brief. A review of the performance analysis suggests that biodiesel and its blends with conventional diesel have comparable brake thermal efficiencies. The energy balance studies show that biodiesel returns more than 3 units of energy for each unit used in its production. However, the brake specific fuel consumption increases by about 9–14% compared to diesel fuel. But, considerable improvement in environmental performance is obtained using biodiesel. There is significant reduction in the emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), soot, particulates, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide with biodiesel. But the NOx emission is more with biodiesel compared to diesel. A case study with Jatropha biodiesel as fuel and the current development status, both global and Indian, of biodiesel as a CI engine fuel have been included in the paper.

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