• Biodiesel Explained

BIODIESEL 101

WHAT IS BIODIESEL?

Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel, 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 is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. It has a flashpoint of >200 compared to petroleum diesel (125), thus making it less of a fire hazard.

HOW IS BIODIESEL MADE?

Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products — methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps, cosmetics and other products).

IS BIODIESEL THE SAME AS STRAIGHT VEGETABLE OIL (SVO)?

No! Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to strict government regulated standards (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. SVO cannot meet biodiesel fuel specifications, it is not registered with the EPA, and it is not a legal motor fuel.

DO YOU NEED TO “CONVERT” A DIESEL ENGINE TO RUN ON BIODIESEL?

No! There is a common misconception that biodiesel is the same as running the diesel engine on straight vegetable oil (SVO). Biodiesel has been chemically changed to run in a diesel engine almost exactly as petroleum diesel, and can be poured directly in to the tank. Petrodiesel and biodiesel can be mixed together in just about any percentage. However, some vehicles do need modifications such as hoses and gaskets.

DO YOU NEED TO “CONVERT” A DIESEL ENGINE TO RUN ON STRAIGHT VEGETABLE OIL (SVO)?

Yes! Running a diesel engine on SVO is different. SVO is more viscous and freezes at a higher temperature than biodiesel and petroleum diesel. This is the main reason for converting the engine. Some vehicles can handle SVO directly in to the tank but conversions are typically needed in order for the vehicle run. The “conversion” typically consists of: Adding a second fuel tank with onboard tank switches, heater coils around injectors, adding or modifying fuel filters, and possibly more. Mainly the conversion is needed on newer vehicles and vehicles located in colder climates.

WHY USE IT?

Biodiesel is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. It is be made from renewable resources such as used cooking oil from restaurants which decreases our dependence on foreign oil and contributes to our own economy.

WHERE DO I GET BIODIESEL?

Biodiesel is available nationwide. It can be purchased directly from biodiesel producers and marketers, petroleum distributors, or at a handful of public pumps throughout the nation.

Check out biodiesel.org for more ยป
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