What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a fuel that results from the separation of glycerin from the oil of a plant such as soybeans, corn, or sunflowers, to mention a few, or animal fats. The left over glycerin is itself a highly sought after product, and is used in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, and other products. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended with petroleum diesel. Pure biodiesel is often referred to as “B100″, a blend of 2% biodiesel and 98% diesel is called “B2″, 20% biodiesel with 80% diesel is “B20″ and so on. Various biodiesel blends (mostly B20 or lower) are already used by hundreds of vehicle fleets, including the U.S. military, Yellowstone National Park, and cities such as Seattle and various counties and cities in Minnesota. Independent tests have shown that biodiesel significantly reduces most harmful vehicle emissions. Biodiesel exhaust has a significantly less harmful impact on human health than petroleum diesel fuel. According the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel has the most favorable energy balance of any transportation fuel. For every unit of energy needed to produce a gallon of biodiesel, 3.2 units of energy are gained. In comparison, for every unit of energy needed to produce a gallon of conventional petroleum diesel, 0.8 units of energy are provided. Because it is made from a locally grown, renewable resource, using biodiesel in our vehicles can help boost our farm economy and reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
Will biodiesel affect vehicles?
One of the major benefits of B2 is that no engine or vehicle modifications are needed and B2 does not harm engine performance. According to the National Biodiesel Board, all known diesel engine makers with equipment in North America support the use of up to 5 percent biodiesel meeting national and local specifications. Using biodiesel in existing diesel engines does not void parts and materials workmanship warranties of any major U.S. engine manufacturer.
How does biodiesel benefit the environment?
Independent tests have shown that biodiesel reduces most harmful vehicle emissions. Using biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine reduces unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Biodiesel exhaust also has a significantly less harmful impact on human health than exhaust from petroleum diesel fuel.
Why is Minnesota interested in biodiesel?
Biodiesel will provide significant economic benefits to the state through reduced reliance on imported oil and increased demand for Minnesota-grown soybeans. It will also benefit the state’s natural resources and public health through a reduction in harmful vehicle emissions.
What economic benefits will biodiesel have for the nation?
One major contribution of biodiesel is that it helps reduce our reliance on foreign oil. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, America currently imports petroleum to meet about 62 percent of its needs. By 2025, it is projected that we will import 77 percent of our petroleum. Pair these supply concerns with a rapid increase in oil demand from emerging countries like China and India, and you have a recipe for continued sky-high prices. For our long-term economic stability, we must start breaking this unhealthy dependence, and the USA is showing the way by using more home-grown biodiesel.
In addition, biodiesel use will help boost the nation’s farm economy. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that an average annual increase of 200 million gallons of soy-based biodiesel demand would boost total crop cash receipts by $5.2 billion cumulatively by 2010, resulting in an average net farm income increase of $300 million per year.
Can Biodiesel be blended with petroleum diesel?
In a word, yes. Blending may take place at the bulk tanker-fueling terminal, or may be accomplished by a method commonly referred to as “splash blending”. This requires partially filling your fuel tank with a percentage of petroleum diesel, and then adding the remainder of bio diesel to achieve the blend ratio desired. When blending in this manner, it is important to have Biodiesel warm enough to fully blend with the petroleum diesel.
What happens to Biodiesel in cold weather?
Recent independent studies show that 100% Biodiesel (B100) has a very small temperature range between the cloud point and pour point, CP +35° F, PP +32° F (+2° C, 0° C). This is approximately 44° F & 49° F (25° C & 27° C) warmer than standard #2 petroleum diesel. Cloud point is the temperature at which the fuel begins to thicken, and pour point is the temperature where it is no longer considered a liquid, but rather a solid that would not pour from a tipped container.
What can be done to use Biodiesel in cold weather?
Lighter blend ratios result in cloud and pour points not too far from standard #2 petroleum diesel. For example a 2% blend of Biodiesel (B2) has a cloud point only about 4° F (2° C) warmer than standard #2 petroleum diesel. At heavier blends, the addition of heat through heat exchangers in the fuel tank and/or in the fuel line is used to keep the fuel flowing.
Is vegetable oil considered Biodiesel?
Not in the true sense, while vegetable oil is certainly made from renewable sources, it is not refined to the exacting specifications of true Biodiesel. To be labeled as Biodiesel, a very strict ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) specification (D6751) must be met. Vegetable oil presents its’ own unique set of challenges, not only in cold weather, but also at moderate temperatures as warm as +41° F (+5° C). Additional heat may be required to get the vegetable oil hot enough to flow as if it were diesel fuel. Typically temperatures upward of +120° F (+49° C) are required. This can be accomplished using multiple heat exchangers in the fuel system.
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