What Is Biodiesel?

Automotive, Home & Family
on October 16, 2011

Biodiesel is not the name of a new heavy metal band. It’s the name of a clean-burning, alternative fuel made from domestic, renewable resources.

How is biodiesel made? According to the National Biodiesel Board, fat or vegetable oil undergoes a chemical transformation, known as transesterification that produces biodiesel, used in diesel automobiles with little or no modification. It also produces glycerin, used in soaps. Biodiesel does not contain petroleum. It can, however, be blended with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is not the same as raw vegetable oil. It has been legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as a legal fuel. Strict industry specifications govern the production and use of fuel grade biodiesel. In addition, biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

What are the benefits of biodiesel? Now that you know what biodiesel is, you may be wondering why you would ever use it. Because biodiesel fuel is made from renewable resources, is nontoxic and has lower emissions than petroleum diesel, it’s better for the environment. Because it is domestically produced, it lessens American dependence on foreign oil. Biodiesel is available nationwide from biodiesel producers and marketers, petroleum distributors and biodiesel pumps in select locations.

What are some common misconceptions about biodiesel? Separate the myth from the fact on biodiesel.

  • Biodiesel is not an experimental fuel. It has been tested thoroughly by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Lab and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Biodiesel fuel performs comparablly to petroleum diesel and can be used in most diesel engines.
  • The use of biodiesel fuel does not necessarily void your engine manufacturer’s warranty. Check with the manufacturer what grade fuel is acceptable.
  • High-quality biodiesel blends can be used in cold climates.
  • Biodiesel does not contribute to rising food prices.
  • Biodiesel production does not cause land to be cleared. It is often made from byproducts of crops already being grown.