Biodiesel is the name for a variety of ester-based oxygenated fuels made from soybean oil or other vegetable oils or animal fats. The concept of using vegetable oil as a fuel dates back to 1895 when Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 using peanut oil as fuel.
Key Advantages of Biodiesel:
1. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored.
2. Biodiesel can be used alone or mixed in any ratio with petroleum diesel fuel. The most common blend is a mix of 20% biodiesel with 80% petroleum diesel, or "B20."
3. The lifecycle production and use of biodiesel produces approximately 80% less carbon dioxide emissions, and almost 100% less sulfur dioxide. Combustion of biodiesel alone provides over a 90% reduction in total unburned hydrocarbons, and a 75-90% reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons. Biodiesel further provides significant reductions in particulates and carbon monoxide than petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel provides a slight increase or decrease in nitrogen oxides depending on engine family and testing procedures. Based on Ames Mutagenicity tests, biodiesel provides a 90% reduction in cancer risks.
4. Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur. The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.
5. Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F.
6. Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as soybeans.
7. Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe.
8. When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of popcorn or french fries.