What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel (“Petrodiesel”). The EPA has classified biodiesel as an advanced biofuel – it can be purchased directly from producers, from distributors, or at the pump. Biodiesel is manufactured from renewable feedstocks such as soybean, palm, canola and sunflower oil, as well as from animal fats, fish oils, algae and recycled cooking oils. Reacting a feedstock with methanol in the presence of a catalyst yields biodiesel with glycerin as a by-product. Biodiesel can be a direct replacement for petrodiesel and can be blended with petrodiesel fuel in any ratio. Biodiesel blends are primarily used as fuel for trucks and automobiles but can also be used as home heating oil and as an alternative fuel in a variety of other applications; including, without limitation, marine transportation, electrical generation, farming equipment and mining operations.
A More Sustainable Source
Biodiesel is twice as biodegradable as petroleum oil and is non-toxic. Tests sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture confirm biodiesel is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as quickly as sugar. Biodiesel may be used in existing tank, pump and pipeline infrastructure without modifications to the diesel engine. As a result, integration of biodiesel into the diesel fuel supply is cost effective as opposed to ethanol, which requires substantial expenditure to retrofit existing tank, pump and pipeline infrastructure. The use of biodiesel in its neat form, B100, or in a blend with petroleum-based diesel, reduces fuel system wear and increases the life of the fuel injection equipment that relies on the fuel for its lubrication.
According to the National Biodiesel Board, among other environmental benefits, biodiesel:
• in its pure, or neat form, reduces the net gain in carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions by approximately 78% compared to petroleum fuels;
• reduces tailpipe emissions of particulate matter (soot or black carbon) by approximately 47%, which is recognized as a major contributor to global warming, as well as a critical air pollutant associated with reduced human health, particularly among children and asthmatics;
• reduces emissions of unburned hydrocarbons by almost 67%;
• produces approximately 48% less carbon monoxide than diesel fuels; and
• contains virtually no sulfur and generates no sulfur emissions, a major source of acidification in rain and surface water.