Have you ever heard the term “biodiesel”? A renewable and biodegradable alternative fuel, biodiesel, unlike regular biodiesel, is made from a combination of modified vegetable oils and diesel fuel. Although it got off to a slow start, Edmunds found that its production increased from 25 million gallons in 2005 to 1.7 billion gallons in 2013.
Biodiesel is rarely used in its pure form. Instead, it is often blended with diesel and labeled according to the amount of diesel it is blended with. Currently, biodiesel is blended at a rate of 5 percent or less in nearly all diesel fuel sold in the United States. So, let’s say you drive a diesel truck or car. In that case, you are most likely putting 5 percent biodiesel in your vehicles; however, some fleets and commercial vehicles use B20, a fuel that contains 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum.
The main source of biodiesel in the U.S. is soybean oil. But it is also made from algae, yellow grease (restaurant oil used in cooking), canola and animal tallow.
Suppose you are thinking about switching to a biodiesel-compatible vehicle or running your current truck or car on biodiesel fuel. In that case, you should know that biodiesel must be used in a certain way so as not to cause damage to a vehicle. Here’s an article to help you out.
Use of biofuels
The growing user base for biodiesel demonstrates that this relatively new invention is doing something right. Even in its blended form, biodiesel offers many benefits. However, its environmental benefits depend on how the fuel is produced.
One of the most significant benefits of biodiesel is that it comes from a renewable resource that can be grown domestically. This can help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In addition, biodiesel also minimizes tailpipe emissions, including the amount of “air toxics” released into the atmosphere. According to research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , biodiesel emits 11 percent less carbon monoxide and 10 percent less particulate matter than diesel.
In addition, Car Talk reported that a study conducted by the Department of Energy and Agriculture showed that biodiesel reduced net carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent. On the other hand, petroleum diesel contains carcinogenic sulfur and benzene, two components regulated by state emissions boards and the EPA. Biodiesel is both non-toxic and biodegradable.
Biodiesel is currently the fuel type of choice for the U.S. government because of its lower emissions and the national mission to reduce dependence on petroleum. It is used in all four branches of the U.S. military along with state, municipal and private fleets. It is also used in agriculture, livestock, construction and manufacturing.
As demand for biodiesel rises, producers are increasing production to make the fuel more available to consumers. However, unlike in Europe, where diesel vehicles are more common, they accounted for only 1 percent of U.S. passenger vehicle sales in 2012.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns about the use of biodiesel fuel is its quality and long-term effects on diesel vehicles. To address these concerns, the National Biodiesel Board, along with automobile and engine manufacturers, regulators and the biodiesel industry, has developed national standards for pure biodiesel and blends.
However, anyone considering using biodiesel must first know how to properly switch to it as a fuel source for their vehicle.
Here are a number of considerations for people looking to start using biodiesel.
It is considered more harmful to people
Biodiesel is made from animal and vegetable fat. Which means that growing demand could increase the prices of these products and create a food crisis in many countries. For example, producing biodiesel from corn will increase its demand, make it more expensive and deprive poor people from having it.
May damage some vehicles
Although the use of biodiesel increases engine efficiency, it can also significantly damage the rubber tires of some engines.
More expensive than other fuels
Recently, biodiesel has become much more expensive than other conventional fuels. It is almost 1.5 times more expensive than petroleum. Using biodiesel can become a costly affair for some.
It can cause engine clogging problems
As biodiesel cleans dirt from the engine, it can build up dirt in the fuel filter and clog it.
Should you switch to biodiesel?
Biodiesel is an excellent alternative to fossil fuel despite some concerns about engine safety, cost and food shortages. In its pure form, biodiesel is safer than petroleum.
Even in the case of spills, it causes much less damage compared to petroleum. It also helps the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil reserves. You can use biodiesel in almost any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or fuel system.