⇒ WHAT IS BIODIESEL?
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel.
A Technical Definition
Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to strict industry specifications in order to ensure proper performance. Biodiesel blends meet specifications for legal diesel motor fuel (ASTM D7467). Also, B100 must meet the ASTM definition for biodiesel itself (ASTM D6751). Raw vegetable oil cannot meet these diesel fuel specifications and therefore is not considered biodiesel.
The technical definition of biodiesel is as follows:
Biodiesel, n – a fuel comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, designated B100, and meeting the requirements of ASTM D 6751.
Biodiesel Blend, n – a blend of biodiesel fuel meeting ASTM D 6751 with petroleum-based diesel fuel, designated BXX, where XX represents the volume percentage of biodiesel fuel in the blend.
Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products – methyl esters and glycerin.
Methyl esters is the chemical name for biodiesel and glycerin is used in a variety of products, including soap.
Growth of An Industry
Biodiesel’s early growth was careful and deliberate, with a focus on sustainability for the industry. Biodiesel works seamlessly with existing infrastructure and vehicles, and the industry has spent significant time documenting and showcasing the fuel’s abilities. Today, upwards of 80% percent of diesel vehicles coming off production lines are warranty approved for up to B20 use. Furthermore, there are major manufacturers of farm equipment warranty approving their tractors, combines, etc. for B100 use.
⇒ BUT WHY BIODEISEL?
The benefits of biodiesel are clear:
- It is the most diverse fuel on the Planet
It’s true. Biodiesel is the most diverse fuel on the planet. It’s made from a broad range of feedstocks including soybean oil, animal fats and used cooking oil. Biodiesel’s ability to find new uses for fats and oils makes it an ideal advanced biofuel, reducing emissions by more than 50 percent compared to petroleum. It also drives new feedstock research and development. Next-generation feedstocks, like camelina and pennycress, could help meet our nation’s energy demands in the future.
- It is a scientifically proven carbon reducer
The science is clear: Biodiesel Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions are on average 80 percent below petroleum diesel including land use impacts. Government agencies and national laboratories have determined that biodiesel has significant lifecycle greenhouse gas reductions. Over time, these studies have more accurately quantified additional impacts such as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC).
The body of evidence includes studies performed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Universities such as UC Davis, University of Chicago, and more.
The latest lifecycle emissions study, which can be found online here, comes from a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Purdue University, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
- It is a simple solution with proven performance
Biodiesel is a simple solution for users. It fits seamlessly with today’s diesel infrastructure. In other words, it fits in existing vehicles and technologies.
Typically blended with petroleum diesel, biodiesel blends provide performance characteristics similar to diesel, such as:
- Fuel economy
Biodiesel and/or renewable diesel can provide additional performance benefits to include (depending upon fuel type and concentration):
- Enhanced lubricity, which can extend engine life
- Improved combustion from higher Cetane Number values
- Improved emissions over petroleum-based fuels
Proven over billions of miles at various blend levels, biodiesel works. About 90 percent of medium and heavy-duty truck Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) approve up to B20 in engines and all OEMs approve up to B5.