Biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum-based diesel, 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 burns cleaner than petroleum diesel and is less harmful if spilled or swallowed.
Biodiesel can be used as a pure fuel 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 a minimum increase in cost for fleet operations and other consumers.
First, you need a diesel engine vehicle. Every diesel vehicle can accept at least 20% biodiesel. Depending on the year, make, and model the maximum blend level varies. Many vehicles can and are being operated with 100% biodiesel with no problems.
Biodiesel is has a higher gel point, is more viscous and is a stronger solvent than petroleum diesel. This can lead to increase rates of fuel filter plugging, particularly on older engines. If not addressed this problem can lead to a plugged filter, which places a greater load on the fuel injection system. If completely plugged, the vehicle will not start. These problems can be mitigated by observing the biodiesel manufacturers recommendations on cold weather operation and by more closely monitoring fuel filters.
Whole Energy has a strict quality control program to ensure that only high quality fuel is produced and sold to our customers. If problems are experienced with our fuel for any reason, please contact us immediately and we will conduct an analysis.
Biodiesel is renewable and reduces emissions. Ethanol is similar in both respects and is suitable for gasoline engines. The life-cycle energy efficiency of biodiesel is the best of any renewable road fuel. Electricity/hydrogen can also be a renewable road fuel but there is little availability of such vehicles. Natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity are cleaner transportation fuels. Natural gas is a less expensive fuel but requires greater infrastructures expenses. Biodiesel does not reduce NOx, which is an important criteria emission particularly in Ozone non-attainment regions.
Biodiesel is produced from any triglyceride-based oil, such as soybean oil, through a process called transesterification. This process is a reaction of the oil with an alcohol resulting in both methyl ester (biodiesel) and glycerin. Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to 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.
Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil but it is also possible to run a diesel vehicle on straight, unaltered, waste vegetable oil, with a few alterations. Conversion information is available under the heading “Refined Waste Vegetable Oil.”
For entities seeking to adopt a definition of biodiesel for purposes such as state or national divisions of weights and measures, or for any other purpose, the official definition consistent with other federal and state laws and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) guidelines is as follows: Biodiesel is defined as mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, which conform to ASTM D6751 specifications for use in diesel engines. Biodiesel refers to the pure fuel before blending with diesel fuel. Biodiesel blends are denoted as, “BXX” with “XX” representing the percentage of biodiesel contained in the blend (i.e.: B20 is 20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel).
Biodiesel is registered as a fuel and fuel additive with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and meets clean diesel standards established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Neat (100 percent) biodiesel has been designated as an alternative fuel by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
The National Biodiesel Board has released the following sales volume estimates for the US:
2003 — an estimated 25 million gallons
2002 — 15 million gallons
2001 — 5 million gallons
2000 — 2 million gallons
1999 — 500,000 gallons
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 results in substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to diesel. Of the major exhaust pollutants, both unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides are ozone or smog forming precursors. The use of biodiesel results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons. Emissions of nitrogen oxides are either slightly reduced or slightly increased depending on the duty cycle of the engine and testing methods used. Based on engine testing, using the most stringent emissions testing protocols required by EPA for certification of fuels or fuel additives in the US, the overall ozone forming potential of the speciated hydrocarbon emissions from biodiesel was found to be nearly 50 percent less than that measured for diesel fuel.
1998 biodiesel lifecycle study, jointly sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture, concluded biodiesel reduces net CO2 emissions by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel. This is due to biodiesel’s closed carbon cycle. The CO2 released into the atmosphere when biodiesel is burned is recycled by growing plants, which are later processed into fuel. Is biodiesel safer than petroleum diesel? Scientific research confirms that biodiesel exhaust has a less harmful impact on human health than petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel emissions have decreased levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and nitrated PAH compounds that have been identified as potential cancer causing compounds. Test results indicate PAH compounds were reduced by 75 to 85 percent, with the exception of benzo (a) anthracene, which was reduced by roughly 50 percent. Targeted nPAH compounds were also reduced dramatically with biodiesel fuel, with 2-nitrofluorene and 1-nitropyrene reduced by 90 percent, and the rest of the nPAH compounds reduced to only trace levels.
When reviewing the high costs associated with other alternative fuel systems, many fleet managers have determined biodiesel is their least-cost-strategy to comply with state and federal regulations. Use of biodiesel does not require major engine modifications. That means operators keep their fleets, their spare parts inventories, their refueling stations and their skilled mechanics. The only thing that changes is air quality.
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. Copper, brass, lead, tin, and zinc should be avoided.
Biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system. 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. Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification is used. We generally recommend using a B20 blend. Operating a vehicle on 100% biodiesel requires careful consideration. Contact us for more details for your particular vehicle.