WHAT IS BIODIESEL?
Biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum diesel that is made from vegetable oils or animal fats. It can be made from virgin oil or from oil that has already been used for cooking. It is nontoxic, biodegradable, and has cleaner emissions than diesel fuel. It can be used in any diesel engine. In older cars that still use natural rubber gaskets, the natural rubber gaskets should be replaced with synthetics (biodiesel can "eat" natural rubber). It can be blended in any amount with diesel fuel, a common blend called B20 is 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel.
IS BIODIESEL SAFE?
Because it is made from vegetable oil and is nontoxic and biodegradable. Studies show that biodiesel is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades faster than sugar. You could probably drink it, but I wouldn't recommend it. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have its exhaust pass the EPA’s Tier 1 and Tier II health effects testing, which show that there is no increased risk to human health at any level of exposure. On the other hand, tests have show petroleum diesel exhaust to be toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic at any level of exposure, causing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to label it as “a pervasive airborne contaminant.” Normal diesel in short is a bad bad fuel. Additionally, biodiesel has a higher flash point than diesel, which makes it safer to handle and store.
IS BIODIESEL BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A U.S. Department of Energy study comparing the lifecycles of biodiesel and petroleum diesel (from production to use) concluded that biodiesel results in a 78.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a 3% reduction of methane. Sulfur oxides and sulfates, which contribute to acid rain, are virtually eliminated in biodiesel emissions because biodiesel contains no sulfur (because its made from beans or animal fat which are very low in sulfur). Furthermore, unburned hydrocarbons, which contribute to localized formation of smog and ozone, are 93% lower in biodiesel exhaust. Biodiesel is also less damaging to the environment if it is spilled because it is biodegradable and nontoxic; in fact, biodiesel has even been used to clean up oil spills.
IS BIODIESEL'S EXHAUST OFFENSIVE?
People who use biodiesel say that the exhaust smells like french fries, popcorn, or donuts, all of these being much less offensive than the foul smell of diesel exhaust. Biodiesel exhaust is also less visually offensive because the black clouds of soot are dramatically reduced.
DOES BIODIESEL PROVIDE A DOMESTIC SUPPLY OF OIL?
Biodiesel can help reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign petroleum, therefore increasing our energy security. Increased biodiesel use will economically benefit U.S. farmers, who are often in need of government subsidies to maintain their way of life.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER REASONS TO USE BIODIESEL?
The high lubricity of biodiesel makes it an appealing alternative to low sulfur diesel because of decreased engine wear. Some other positive performance attributes are that it has a high cetane and high oxygen content. New diesel engines get better gas mileage than gasoline ones; therefore, an efficient car powered by biodiesel can be more economical than a gasoline automobile even though the fuel costs more per gallon.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER BIODIESEL APPLICATIONS?
Buses, trucks, delivery vehicles and any other on-road diesel-powered vehicle. There are fleets all over the country that are using biodiesel including school buses, transit authorities, various state vehicles, businesses, the National Park Service, US Postal Service, and US Air Force.
WHAT ABOUT OFF ROAD VEHICLES?
Biodiesel can be used for off road construction, mining, and farm machinery.
WHAT ABOT MARINE VESSELS?
Biodiesel can be used in marine engines safely. Marine use is especially attractive due to the environmentally benign nature of biodiesel.
WHAT ABOUT STATIONARY POWER GENERATION?
With new power generation capacity coming online, biodiesel makes an attractive choice to meet the regulations. Many stationary application are permitted sources requiring exhaust emission control system, which will work well with biodiesel but will not work with sulfur containing diesel fuel. (Additional nitrous oxide control technology may be needed to bring the engine into compliance with stationary emissions regulations as biodiesel does give off more NOx than normal diesel.)
CAN I USE BIODIESEL AS A HOME HEATING OIL?
Biodiesel can be used in home heating furnaces that use regular #2 heating oil.
WILL BIODIESEL WORK IN A HYBRID OR FUEL CELL VEHICLE?Biodiesel can be used in diesel hybrids that are currently under development, and it can also be used as an excellent reforming fuel for fuel cells.
CAN BIODIESEL BE USED AN AGRICULTURE ADJUVANT?
Biodiesel is used as a carrier for pesticides and fertilizer in agriculture sprays due to it being non-toxic and biodegradable.
IS BIODIESEL A SOLVENT?
Biodiesel is also used as an industrial solvent and as a replacement of high VOC (volatile organic compounds) containing petroleum solvents. With regulations driving the VOC contents lower for solvents used in industries, biodiesel offers an attractive solution. It can also be used as a household cleaning agent and degreaser.
CAN BIODIESEL BE USED AS A LUBRICITY AGENT/ADDITIVE?
Biodiesel is also used as a lubricity agent/enhancer in many applications. It is especially useful in marine applications where water contamination with petroleum lubricity agents can create problems. With future low-sulfur fuel regulations, biodiesel can be used as an additive to maintain lubricity. An addition of 1-2% biodiesel can increase diesel lubricity by 65%.
CAN BIODIESEL BE USED AS A FUEL ADDITIVE?
Biodiesel can also be used as a diesel fuel additive for the purpose of keeping the injectors, pumps and other combustion components clean. A 1-2% blend should be sufficient for this purpose.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR WHEN USING BIODIESEL?
Like all diesel fuel, biodiesel does not perform well at low temps. To combat this problem mix in more normal diesel during cold weather. If you are running b20 (20% biodiesel 80% diesel) you shouldn't see any performance differences than using normal diesel (while still reducing emissions and lowering co2 output). In very old engines that still use natural rubber gaskets or hoses these parts should be removed and replaced with synthetic ones, as biodiesel will eat them away. Due to biodiesel's amazing solvent properties if you have a dirty engine and then run biodiesel through it it will clean all the gunk that has collected on your engine and you will need to change your fuel filter several times until it is all cleaned out. Also like normal diesel you shouldn't use any biodiesel that is older than six months. Other than that it can be used like normal diesel.