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Report Thread starter 5 years ago
The end of the holiday is fast approaching and I've hardly started my EPQ.
I'm looking to go on to do chemical engineering so I've chosen a topic I think is relatable - my title is
To what extent does Biodiesel provide a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuel sourced diesel and petrol?The issue is I'm not sure how to start the essay and I'm not sure what I can talk about for 5000 words, if anyone can suggest topics for me to analyse in the essay or any suggestions, that would be excellent
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Report 5 years ago
This is what I would do, trying to bear in mind that it's from a chemical engineering perspective;


- Set the scene (global warming, fuel non-renewability... etc)
- Why does an alternative to fossil-sourced fuels need to be found?
- What, in brief, is a biofuel?
- Summarise the points the rest of your project will address

Biofuels- which and how? (The smallest section of the main body);

- Define a biofuel
- Describe the chemical processes (eg fermentation, distillation, purification, et cetera) that go from growth to the synthesis of a viable biofuel (Do you need any difficult, time/energy consuming methods?)
- Describe the industrialised processes, explaining how the chemical processes occur with actual crops

Technological challenges;

- Explain how the enthalpies of combustion of biofuels compare to that of fossil fuels
- Compare physical properties (eg viscosity, volatility) that may effect how they are stored, or processed
- Work out if biofuels would be able to be used in pre-existing combustion technologies
- Explain whether current refinement plants could in someway be used for the new products
- How easy would the industrialisation of the chemical processes be?
- Can the development of the industry occur on a fast enough timescale to make the replacement of fossil fuels sufficiently quickly?
- Do organic combustion technologies for biofuels provide a better alternative than use of electrical engines & hydrogen fuel cells on a technical point of view?

Economic & societal challenges;

- Are the land demands for the required crops economic?
- How does the reduced area for food production effect society? Is it ethical? How will it effect both the prices of food and fuel?
- Where can sufficient fuel-crop be grown? Will this have any geopolitical significance? Is this an ethical consideration?
- What are the costs associated with production & processing of biofuels in comparison to the extraction of fossil fuels?
- What would the global cost be to remove/replace pre-existing technology if it couldn't be compatible with the new fuel types? (eg, engines)
- Would the fuel be economically viable?
- What is the cost in decommissioning now useless plants?
- Do organic combustion technologies for biofuels provide a better alternative than use of electrical engines & hydrogen fuel cells financially? Does this effect how valid biofuels are as an alternative to fossil fuels, or is the need for them invalidated?


- Balance the arguments, refer back to the title
- Again, summarise what you've previously said


This took like 5 minutes, so don't think of it as an exhaustive list of possibilities.
Have fun, do.

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