Biodiesel Picture of Sunfowers- Pretty, aren't they?

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What Is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is fuel for diesel engines made from plant or animal oils. The most common starting material is vegetable oil made from sunflowers or rapeseed, but it can also be made from the oils of other plants including coconuts, soybean, peanut and hemp, or from animal fats. The oil used can be fresh unused oil, or can be waste oil from cooking.

How is it made?
Biodiesel is made by transesterification of a vegetable oil. This process can be carried out with simple reagents, commonly found in most hardware stores.  For details of how the reaction works, see the chemistry page.

Is it legal?
This very much depends on local laws. In the UK, to use the fuel in a diesel engine, duty on the fuel must be paid. This involves registering with the treasury as a fuel producer, and paying the appropriate amount of tax for the fuel produced.

Image at top of page modified from image at Wikkimedia Commons, used under GNU Free documentation Licence
Antony Walters, University of Bristol