Biodiesel has a number of benefits and is an alternative to the traditional diesel fuel. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2016, soybean oil made more than half of the feedstock for biodiesel in the country. They also used corn oil, canola oil, and even recycled grease. In some cases, they blend it with petroleum diesel or used it in pure form. Biodiesel fuel is becoming more popular but is not a new concept. When the diesel engine was invented in 1897, its inventor, Rudolf Diesel conducted an experiment using vegetable oil fuel.
Today, biodiesel has many recognized benefits.
Cleaner for the Environment
Biodiesel fuel is undoubtedly better for the environment, as proven by extensive testing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted independent tests in accordance with the Clean Air Act, in 2000. That year, it became the first and only alternative fuel to complete Tier I and Tier II health effects testing. There are no sulfur or aromatic compounds in biodiesel, and a study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that there are almost 78% less carbon dioxide emissions that come from it.
Biodiesel is produced from renewable sources. The resources that make up petroleum, on the other hand, are finite and will eventually be depleted. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 15 percent even if a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum blend (B20) is used.
Other Benefits of Biodiesel
Cleaner: Fewer pollutants, less soot, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide are produced. It is non-toxic and biodegradable.
Safer: Petroleum diesel has a flash point of 52°C, so storing and transporting it can be hazardous. However, biodiesel has a much higher flashpoint of 150°C.
Produced locally: Biodiesel eliminates the issues that come with mining, drilling, transportation, and processing of coal and oil/natural gas. You can get it from local refineries, which reduces the expense of importing finished product from elsewhere. It also reduces the pollutants created from fossil fuels. Even waste cooking oil can be used to make this fuel. When you recover and convert it, it creates less waste. Plus, waste oil does not end up in sewer systems or in landfills.
The Levels of Benefits of Biodiesel
This alternative fuel has benefits on many levels. These are:
The U.S. biodiesel industry supported nearly 52,000 jobs in 2009 and added an estimated $4.287 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product that year. By 2022, advanced biofuels production could support 190,000 jobs, according to an analysis by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. In addition, the National Biodiesel Board estimated that biodiesel fuel made from algae will create over 16,000 jobs. Local production enables biofuel plants to employ local people and increases the demand for crop production.
The EPA has registered biodiesel as a fuel and fuel additive. Biodiesel meets California Air Resources Board standards and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with the Department of Transportation, has given it (B100) alternative fuel status. The BQ-9000 Program, a voluntary quality management certification system used by the biodiesel industry, combines a few internationally accepted principles to ensure the quality of products. They use the biodiesel fuel specifications from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as well. They issue various certifications to marketers, producers, and laboratories involved in the biodiesel supply chain.
Better for Engines
A higher level of lubricity helps prevent premature wear of engine parts. On the other hand, federal regulations for reducing fuel sulfur of traditional diesel has diminished this aspect. Even if you add biodiesel to concentrations as low as 1 percent, it could produce a mixture that reduces wear. An ASTM fuel specification was modified to include a lubricity requirement to address such matters.
The Energy Policy Act approved biodiesel fuel as a compliance strategy in 1998, by Congress. Federal, state, and public utilities could, therefore, buy 450 gallons of pure biodiesel fuel and make a 20 percent blend with diesel and meet alternative fuel purchase requirements. The move also helped confirm compatibility with existing engines so that fleets could burn cleaner fuel.
They can also use existing industrial production infrastructures to make biodiesel fuel. By using biofuels, we reduce reliance on foreign oil sources. It has cost tens of billions of dollars annually for the military to secure foreign oil, the foreign tax credits and environmental costs. The National Biodiesel Board has also said the U.S. was losing 10,000 to 25,000 jobs for every billion dollars of foreign oil acquired in the 1990s.
Petroleum diesel will yield 0.83 units of fuel product energy for each unit of fossil fuel burned, according to the EPA. Producing biodiesel yields 3 times the energy per unit.
By producing biodiesel, fewer waste products, such as cooking oil, end up in sewers and landfills. There will be less contamination in our waterways. There is a much lower incidence of toxic sewer spills as well. The fuel requires less of an emergency response when spills do happen.
U.S. Biodiesel Production
According to the Monthly Biodiesel Production Report, the U.S. produced 136 million gallons of biodiesel fuel in May 2017. This was 9 million gallons more than the month before. The Midwest produced almost 70 percent of the total output. In total, there were 97 biodiesel plants in the country. Producers sold 66 million gallons of pure biodiesel and 82 million gallons of biodiesel blends.
Sources: EIA, Conserve Energy Future, Biodiesel.org, Bio.org, AFDC, EPA