Frequently Asked Questions and Myths discussed here with thanks and acknowledgement to the National Biodiesel Board
What is Biodiesel?
Is Biodiesel the same as raw vegetable oil?
Is biodiesel needed to solve our energy problems?
How efficient is biodiesel?
Is biodiesel used as a pure fuel or is it blended with petroleum diesel?
How much biodiesel has been produced in the U.S.?
How do biodiesel emissions compare to petroleum diesel?
Do I need special storage facilities?
Can I use biodiesel in my existing diesel engine?
What is Biodiesel? Biodiesel is the common name of a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. The chemical name for biodiesel is methyl-ester.
Is Biodiesel the same as raw vegetable oil? No, biodiesel is produced from a chemical reaction called transesterfication. This is a reaction between vegetable oil and methanol with the aid of a catalyst, which produces glycerin and biodiesel. Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to strict industry specifications (ASTM D6751) in order to insure proper performance. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751 and is legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency is a legal motor fuel for sale and distribution. Raw vegetable oil cannot meet biodiesel fuel specifications, it is not registered with the EPA, and it is not a legal motor fuel.
Is biodiesel needed to solve our energy problems? Heck YES!! Biodiesel is made from waste oils produced right here in America and if not used to make fuel it would we exported to other countries or used for other purposes. What is more important than recycling local waste to make fuel to reduce what we have to import.
How efficient is biodiesel? Biodiesel is more efficient than petroleum diesel. In fact, biodiesel was used to break the land speed record against petroleum diesel in truck: PetroDiesel only 169mph and BioDiesel 182mph!!! Check out this article here, and this one with a video here.
Is biodiesel used as a pure fuel or is it blended with petroleum diesel? Biodiesel can be used as a pure fuel 100% or blended with petroleum in any percentage. B20 (a blend of 20 percent by volume biodiesel with 80 percent by volume petroleum diesel) has demonstrated significant environmental benefits with and no increased costs for fleets.
How much biodiesel has been produced in the U.S.? The Nation Biodiesel Board has released the following production volumes estimates for the U.S., per calendar year:
- 2014: 1.75 billion gallons
- 2013: 1.8 billion gallons
- 2012: 1.1 billion gallons
- 2011: 1.07 billion gallons
- 2010: 315 million gallons
- 2009: 545 million gallons
- 2008: 691 million gallons
- 2007: 500 million gallons
- 2006: 224 million gallons
- 2005: 112 million gallons
How do biodiesel emissions compare to petroleum diesel? Simply put biodiesel just smells good. With up to 86% less emissions you can breathe easier knowing biodiesel is being used in your community. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. The use of biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine not equipped with new diesel after treatments results in substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from petroleum diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to higher sulfur diesel.
Do I need special storage facilities? NO! Follow the same fuel rules you would with any fuel. Keep it in a leak free container that isn’t clear and can be sealed when not in use. In general, the standard storage and handling procedures used for petroleum diesel can be used for biodiesel. The fuel should be stored in a clean, dry, dark environment. Acceptable storage tank materials include aluminum, steel, fluorinated polyethylene, fluorinated polypropylene and Teflon.
Can I use biodiesel in my existing diesel engine? Yes, biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or fuel system. If you use it infrequently you will likely never know the difference. If you use biodiesel regularly it is a good idea to buy an extra fuel filter to carry with you. Depending on how much petri-diesel fuel trash has contaminated your vehicle before using biodiesel will dictate how often you will need to change your filter. Biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken. The good news is after a few filter changes you won’t have to change it again for a long time if you continue to use clean fuel like Biodiesel. Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification is used and it will not add any deposits to your engine’s fuel system.