What Is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that is non-toxic, biodegradable, clean burning, and renewable. In the United States, biodiesel is made primarily from various oilseed crops such as soybeans and secondarily from waste vegetable oil (WVO), which is essentially used restaurant cooking oil. Although, it can also be made from virtually any fat or oil, including animal fats, there are specific properties that make oils from crops such as Soybeans, Canola (or Rapeseed), Mustard, or Jatropha, more desirable than other fat sources.

In Europe, the biodiesel industry has been extremely active for about 20 years (especially in Germany and France). The fuel is almost exclusively made from rapeseed oil, a plant that is in the mustard and turnip families. The European variety of rapeseed is not grown in the U.S. because of the climate it needs to thrive, but the canola variety of the plant is grown in many parts of the country and is used for the food industry as well.

Why Biodiesel?

  • Burns Up to 80% Cleaner than Petroleum Diesel
  • Renewable Agricultural Product
  • Made in USA
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-Toxic
  • Safer to Handle and Transport

Dispelling Myths

  • Biodiesel is not straight vegetable oil (SVO).
  • Biodiesel is for diesel engines and may not be used in Gasoline engines, ever.
  • Biodiesel can be mixed with Petroleum diesel in any concentration.
  • No diesel engine conversion is necessary to use biodiesel. Just pour it in!
  • Biodiesel will not harm modern engines, and ASTM quality biodiesel cannot void your warranty.
  • Biodiesel can be produced from any animal or vegetable fat, not just soybeans.
  • Biodiesel will gel in cold weather, but so will petroleum diesel. Use additives or blends in winter.
  • Biodiesel has absolutely nothing to do with Ethanol, and we don’t use corn to make it.

Biodiesel Facts

  • Biodiesel is a much cleaner fuel than fossil-fuel diesel. It can be used in any diesel engine with no need for modifications. In fact, most diesel engines run cooler, and can last longer with biodiesel due to the increased lubrication and mild solvent effects of biodiesel.
  • Biodiesel has a flash point over 300°F and is classified as non-flammable.
  • Biodiesel fuel burns up to 80% cleaner than conventional diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel substantially reduces unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter in exhaust fumes.
  • Sulphur dioxide emissions are eliminated (biodiesel contains no sulphur).
  • The ozone-forming potential of biodiesel emissions is nearly 50% less than conventional diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel is plant-based and adds no net CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • Nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions may increase or decrease but can be reduced to well below conventional diesel fuel levels by adjusting engine timing.
  • Biodiesel is environmentally friendly: it is renewable, “more biodegradable than sugar and less toxic than table salt” (US National Biodiesel Board).
  • Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine.
  • Fuel economy is about the same as conventional diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel has a high cetane rating, which improves engine performance: 20% biodiesel added to conventional diesel fuel improves the cetane rating 3 points, making it a Premium fuel.
  • Biodiesel can be mixed with ordinary diesel fuel in any proportion — even a small amount of biodiesel means cleaner emissions and better engine lubrication: 1% biodiesel mixed with petroleum diesel will increase lubricity by 65%. This will become very critical in 2006/2007 when Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel is mandated by law, since removing sulfur from petroleum diesel lowers lubricity.
  • Biodiesel in concentrations of B20 (20%) or less, generally requires no precautions when used in ANY diesel engine. Higher blends should be used only in vehicles made after 1994, or in vehicles which have had all rubber seals, hoses, and gaskets replaced with viton.
  • Biodiesel can be produced from any fat or vegetable oil, including waste cooking oil.
  • Read the EPA Fact Sheet – Clean Alternative Fuels: Biodiesel
  • View the ASTM D-6751 specification for B100 – ASTM Spec

Biodiesel Blends

  • B2 – 2% biodiesel and 98% petroleum diesel. Economical and provides 65% more lubricity. Commonly offered by fuel retailers and distributors. All major diesel engine manufacturers certify this minimum blend.
  • B20 – 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel. Offers significant clean air benefits. Commonly used by federal, state, and municpal governments, utility companies and school bus fleets to reduce pollution and meet clean air regulatory requirements.
  • B100 – 100% biodiesel. Can completely replace petroleum diesel.

Storage and Handling

  • Biodiesel should be handled similarly to petroleum diesel, although it tends to be a bit more stable.
  • Chemical additives or heating devices normally used in cold weather for petroleum diesel should also be used with biodiesel due to its cold weather performance issues.
  • Store in clean, cool, dry, dark environment.
  • Acceptable storage tank and pump equipment include aluminum, steel, fluorinated polyethylene, fluorinated polypropylene and Teflon. (Avoid copper, brass, lead, tin and zinc.)