Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning replacement for traditional diesel. It can be used in existing diesel engines in a blend of up to 20% blend (B20) without engine modification, and in pure 100% (B100) form with vehicle modifications.
Biodiesel meets the EPA definition of an advanced biofuel, as it can be produced from a wide-variety of qualifying renewable biomass and exceeds a 50% greenhouse gas reduction. The diesel fuel alternative is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. Like petroleum diesel, biodiesel is used to fuel compression-ignition engines.
Biodiesel is made from:
Recycled Cooking Oil
Animal Fat Waste
Biodiesel can also be made from almost any lipid or triglyceride (fat or oil), such as fish oils, canola oil, algae oil, and many more that are currently under development and cultivation. These array of options in biodiesel production allow it to achieve significant scale and the highest carbon reductions.
Biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions to near-zero levels due to the biogenic lifecycle
Biodiesel reduces particulate matter on average 50% when compared to petroleum diesel
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)
Biodiesel is NOx neutral and in certain applications can reduce NOx by up to 10% compared to petroleum diesel
Decreased Particulate Filter (DPF) Plugging
Biodiesel’s lower soot generation fills the DPF much slower, and can therefore lead to less frequent regeneration than ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). Additionally, biodiesel’s soot particles oxidize more aggressively resulting in more passive regen activity and less fuel burned for active regeneration events
Biodiesel dramatically reduces friction between the engine’s moving parts, eliminating the need for additives
Biodiesel has a shorter ignition time and better combustion than petroleum diesel
Sustainability in Fleets
While medium- to heavy-duty trucks make up about 5% of total vehicles, they are responsible for 23% of the carbon dioxide (CO ) emissions from the transportation sector.
These vehicle types are 99% reliant on diesel and emit more CO into the atmosphere because of consistent, long-distance traveling.
For fleet managers and operators looking to improve their sustainability measures, biodiesel will continue to be the preferred fuel choice for its lower carbon impact and vehicle engine benefits. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), biodiesel produces 78.5 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than petroleum diesel. Also, because of it's biogenic properties, the lifecycle of biodiesel makes it a near-zero carbon alternative.
Biodiesel has consistently ranked as the most widely used alternative fuel option reported by fleet participants in NTEA’s Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey.
Biodiesel in the United States
There is a common misconception that biodiesel should be avoided because it is refined from palm or corn, which can be environmentally detrimental.
In the United States, biodiesel production is monitored by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
Under the RFS, palm oil-based biodiesel cannot be purchased or imported into the United States and corn starch-based products do not qualify as advanced biofuels.
The U.S. biodiesel industry is predominantly a “recycler” of waste oils and byproducts—biodiesel is produced without the need to create additional agricultural land or to decrease agricultural production in the area. For example, animal fats and oils might be used at a local restaurant to cook food. Once this oil can no longer be used in the restaurant, a rendering company will collect and aggregate all of the used cooking oils from restaurants and foodservice facilities in a particular geography. The rendering companies collect, filter, and process these oils and then sell the recycled product to biodiesel producers to be refined into biodiesel fuel.
This promotes a closed-loop and zero waste economy that uses agriculture and food waste and byproducts as a solution for low carbon transport. Reducing waste and better utilization of waste and losses in the value chain is a major reason for a transition to renewable fuel.