Summer is coming soon, and most of the time, there are more long trips scheduled along the way. Some of the things needed to be considered for trips are whether you have enough gas to keep the drive going and how much fuel is required throughout the journey. It also means that there are more trucks and other vehicles transporting goods across highways in several countries.

When it comes to thinking about the fuel needed all through the journey, it does not hurt to check out alternatives and research more about those fuels that have a lesser environmental impact on the traditional fossil fuels, such as biodiesel.

What is biodiesel?

Today, the world is on the hunt for new energy sources, as extracting fossil fuels for energy contributes to environmental damage such as air and water pollution. One of the viable alternatives that are taking the spotlight today is biodiesel.

Biodiesel is clean-burning fuel from organic plant or animal material such as vegetable and animal fats treated with alcohol-producing chemicals. It is considered a renewable and desirable alternative to the traditional types of fuels. When it burns, energy is produced that harnesses the operation of a diesel combustion engine. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency declares biofuels as a legal source of fuel. It is also the only alternative fuel that passed the test outlined in the Clean Air Act of 1990.

Biodiesel production had increased to 1.7 billion gallons in 2013 from the original 25 million gallons back in 2005. Today, biodiesel is blended at about 5% or less into almost all of the diesel fuel in the market. The primary source for biodiesel in the U.s is soybean oil, but it can also be produced from:

  • Yellow grease or the used restaurant oil from cooking
  • Algae
  • Canola
  • Animal Tallow

History of Biodiesel

Even in the invention of the diesel engine back then, the very concept of biodiesel was already present. The inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel initially believed that peanut oil could be the fuel source for a machine. However, usable petroleum-based waste oil became more commercially available in the market. While modern diesel engines still continuously run on petroleum diesel today, several owners are considering shifting to other alternative fuels like biodiesel.

How does biodiesel work?

Biodiesel can come in various forms in the market, such as the pure form designated as B100 or in combination with other types of diesel fuels. The B-factor is an indicator of the ratio of biodiesel to different kinds of fuels. Biodiesel may contain some solvent that can release dirt from the engine, resulting in the accumulation of dirt in the engine or machine's workings. There might be a need to clean engine parts more regularly because of this.

Biodiesel Vs. Diesel

There are also some things you need to know about biodiesel, such as the difference between diesel and biodiesel. One stark characteristic of biodiesel includes how it is rarely used in its pure form. Biodiesel is typically blended with diesel and is designated by the amount of regular diesel that is mixed. According to Edmunds, some biodiesel can also be found among many regular and common types of diesel sold at gas stations in the US, with its blends reaching up to B5. Many people who drive diesel trucks and other vehicles are not entirely aware that the fuel they put in their engines contain 5% biodiesel. Many fleet and commercial vehicles usually use B20, which refers to a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum.

The costs involved in producing biodiesel are about the same as the price of producing petroleum. Federal policies have implemented some incentives to help keep market prices competitive.

Pros and Cons of Biodiesel

The fuels used to keep the engine running, such as biodiesel, also have advantages and disadvantages, even in its blended form. Here is a list of the pros and cons of biodiesel to learn more about what it is and how it can work.

Pros of biodiesel

  • Biodiesel comes from renewable resources, such as byproducts from corn and grasses. It may even come from restaurant grease, which makes it a benefit for dealing with food waste. Biodiesel can also reduce dependence on foreign oil, which involves a long process of production and export.
  • Biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable, which also reduces tailpipe emissions and the amount of soot and other air toxins that can be released into the atmosphere. Research from Environmental Protection Agency specified that biodiesel emits 11% less carbon monoxide and 10% less particulate matter than diesel.
  • Biodiesel also helps keep the engine of your car safe because it has no harmful chemicals inside. Some car owners tend to ask themselves, "can I put biodiesel truck?" when it comes to biodiesel. To answer the question, biodiesel is safe to use for your engine because it does not pressure the machine.
  • The usual question that car owners tend to have for biodiesel is, "can you put biodiesel in a normal diesel engine?" The answer is that vehicles and transportation like trucks and cars can run on biodiesel even without any modifications.

Cons of Biodiesel

  • One of the significant concerns regarding biodiesel is how fueling stations can treat and store biodiesel compared to other fuels. Biodiesel needs to be stored at the correct temperature as it is made from various kinds of vegetable-based products. If left too long in warm storage, there is a possibility that it can grow mold, and if it is stored at temperatures that are too cold, it can thicken and become difficult to use.
  • Another concern with biodiesel is the problem caused by higher lubricity in terms of transitioning from fossil fuels to biodiesel. Even though high lubricity can prevent premature wear and tear of the fuel system, it can also cause fuel filter clogs due to the release of residue on tank walls and pipes. It is recommended that diesel vehicle owners should change fuel filters after the first tank of fuel.