Biodiesel FAQs

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 and other products).
Is biodiesel the same as veggie oil?
NO!!! Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act. Our biodiesel meets strict industry specifications (ASTM D6571) and is legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as a legal motor fuel for sale and distribution. Vegetable oil is not registered with the EPA, has not met federal health effects testing requirements and is not a legal motor fuel.
Is biodiesel used as a pure fuel, or can it be blended with diesel fuel?
Biodiesel can be used as a pure fuel or blended with petroleum in any percentage. B20 (a blend of 20 percent by volume biodiesel with 80 percent by volume petroleum diesel) has demonstrated significant environmental benefits with a minimum increase in cost for fleet operations and other consumers.
Who can answer my questions about biodiesel?
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) maintains the largest library of biodiesel information in the US. Information can be requested by visiting the biodiesel web site at www.nbb.org, by emailing the NBB at info@biodiesel.org, or by calling NBB’s toll free number (800) 841-5849.
Can I use biodiesel in my existing engine?
Biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system. Biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken. Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification is used.
How do biodiesel emmissions compare to regular petroleum diesel?
Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. The use of biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine results in substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to diesel. Of the major exhaust pollutants, both unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides are ozone or smog forming precursors. The use of biodiesel results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons. Emissions of nitrogen oxides are either slightly reduced or slightly increased depending on the duty cycle of the engine and testing methods used. Based on engine testing, using the most stringent emissions testing protocols required by EPA for certification of fuels or fuel additives in the US, the overall ozone forming potential of the speciated hydrocarbon emissions from biodiesel was nearly 50 percent less than that measured for diesel fuel.
Does Biodiesel cost more than other alternative fuels?
When reviewing the high costs associated with other alternative fuel systems, many fleet managers have determined biodiesel is their least-cost-strategy to comply with state and federal regulations. Use of biodiesel does not require major engine modifications. That means operators keep their fleets, their spare parts inventories, their refueling stations and their skilled mechanics. The only thing that changes is air quality.

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