Whether you call it bio-diesel or biodiesel, it is a fuel that is created by chemically reacting fatty acids and alcohol. This is usually accomplished by combining vegetable oil, typically soy or rapeseed, with methanol in the presence of a catalyst (e.g., sodium hydroxide). Usually, biodiesel is blended with traditional petroleum diesel (e.g., B20 is 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel). B100 indicates that the product is 100% bio-diesel. Your vehicle owner’s manual will recommend which blend is best for the vehicle.
In the past, you may have heard stories of concern about the effect on engines running bio-diesel. Allegations of damaged components, clogged filters, and reduced engine performance have been made against biodiesel. In each of these cases, the accusations have been shown to either be false or attributed to “home-brewed” poor quality biodiesel. These poor quality homemade blends of biodiesel usually contain excess water or incompletely processed vegetable oil. Today’s manufactured biodiesels are refined to ASTM standards, and the excellent quality should eliminate any concerns you may have.
Bio-Diesel Performance Facts
The following are generally accepted facts about biodiesel performance:
- Engine wear: There is less engine wear using biodiesel than with petroleum diesel.
- Deposits and clogging: If the fuel quality meets ASTM standards, waxy deposits and the clogging of fuel filters in the engine will not occur.
- Engine power: There is a 3-5% lower engine power when using biodiesel. This is because biodiesel fuel has less energy per unit volume than petroleum.
- Fuel efficiency: This too is also a maximum of 3-5% lower due to the lower engine power. Many EPA tests show identical miles per gallon as petroleum diesel.
- Cold-weather performance: Bio-diesel performs similarly to petroleum diesel in cold weather. It is best to operate engines above 40°F, but with engine additives, engines can operate at 0°F.
- Pollution: One of the selling points of biodiesel is it produces less air pollution because of higher oxygen content. The only air pollutant that is higher for biodiesel is nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which can be minimized with proper engine tuning. If spilled in sensitive habitat, it is biodegradable.
Biodiesel is Mainstream
Biodiesel is not only safe, but it is recognized fuel registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is also recognized as a safe fuel by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It also meets California’s tough air emissions standards under the California Air Resources Board (CARB). It is also widely used throughout Europe.
Bio-diesel is a biodegradable, renewable fuel that is safe and can replace petroleum diesel. It is friendly to the environment and reduces tailpipe emissions. Anyone with a diesel engine should consider switching to Biodiesel to minimize air pollution in the Rogue Valley.