Biodiesel

The Basics

Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel produced from organic feed sources such as soybeans, cooking oil, and animal fats. Biodiesel can be used in its pure or “neat” form (B100) or blended at any ratio with petroleum diesel to achieve cost efficiency and improve cold weather performance. Typically blends with smaller percentages of biodiesel perform better in colder temperatures. The most common form of biodiesel is B20 – a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

Biodiesel can be used in any diesel vehicle without modification. It is used extensively in parts of Europe and is gaining support in the United States. Applications include buses, delivery trucks, waste disposal and recycling trucks, construction and farm equipment, heavy-duty freight hauling, boats and passenger vehicles.

Advantages

Ecologically Friendly

Soybeans or other forms of biomass used for biodiesel absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, offsetting the carbon dioxide that is released from burning the fuel. A study complete by Argonne National Laboratory found that b100 use reduces carbon dioxide emission by 74% compared to petroleum diesel.

Energy Independence

Biodiesel is produced in the US and used in conventional diesel engines directly substituting the use of diesel or extending supplies of diesel.

Increased Safety

Biodiesel is much safer to handle, store, and transport compared to petroleum diesel. The flashpoint for biodiesel is much higher than petroleum diesel making it a safer fuel option. Biodiesel’s flashpoint is over 130 degrees C whereas petroleum diesel is 52 degrees Celcius.

Considerations

Biodiesel contains less energy on a volumetric basis than petroleum diesel. The higher the biodiesel content the lower the energy content per gallon. In colder weather biodiesel can crystalize, but a cold flow improver can be added to a blend to prevent this.

Local Partners

Southeast Diesel Collaborative

The Southeastern Team Reducing the Impacts of Diesel Emissions (STRIDE) Collaborative is part of EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, a program combining regulatory measures with voluntary initiatives to reduce the pollution emitted from diesel engines across the country. It includes leaders from industry, academia, and government at all levels from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  The collaborative was formed in April of 2006 and was originally called the Southeast Diesel Collaborative (SEDC).