What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel, it’s produced from domestic renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, however it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Is biodiesel the same as raw vegetable oil?
Fuel-grade biodiesel is produced to strict industry specifications (ASTM D6751) in order to insure proper and consistent performance. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751 and is legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency is a legal motor fuel for sale and distribution.
For entities seeking to adopt a definition of biodiesel for purposes such as federal or state statute, state or national divisions of weights and measures, or for any other purpose, the official definition consistent with other federal and state laws and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) guidelines is as follows:
How do I convert my diesel equipment to run on biodiesel?
You probably don’t have to convert anything, just pump and go. Some car manufacturers (though few, if any major modern manufacturers) use components for their diesel fuel pumps and lines that are adversely affected by biodiesel, such as Buna and Nitrile seals. If biodiesel is used in these vehicles in higher than concentrations of B20 for an extended period of time then you should replace the seals and hoses with a material that is biodiesel resistant, such as Teflon or Viton. Almost all vehicles manufactured after 1978 are compatible with biodiesel.
You should also be aware that biodiesel acts as a better solvent than standard petroleum diesel and it will "clean out" deposits in your fuel tank and they can get stuck in your fuel filter. It is often necessary to change your fuel filter a couple times when you first make the switch to biodiesel.
Will using biodiesel damage my engine or void the manufacturer’s warranty?
No, but there are some things that you need to know. Manufacturer warranties only cover defects in material and workmanship. These warranties do not cover engine problems related to fuel of any kind (biodiesel or petroleum diesel). Tests and demonstrations, however, have shown that biodiesel is no different from petroleum diesel in terms of engine performance and wear. Some manufactures such as Volkswagen have made very positive statements about biodiesel. John Deere and DaimlerChrysler have gone as far as to fill their diesel vehicles with biodiesel blends on the production line.
Is biodiesel used as a pure fuel or is it blended with petroleum diesel?
Either way works. Biodiesel can be used straight (B100) or in a low blend (B2) or anywhere in between. People mix and buy different blends for different reasons. Low blends of biodiesel (B2-B5) are often used to increase the lubricity of petroleum diesel. At a moderate blend of B20 you will start to realize significant emissions improvements, while at the same time avoid a drop in cold flow operability. Economics is also an issue. In some markets and at some times biodiesel is more expensive than petroleum, but if blended at only B5 the cost difference is hardly noticed.
Do I need special storage facilities?
Typically not, but there are a few exceptions. Biodiesel can usually be stored in the same tanks and equipment that petroleum diesel is stored. One exception to this rule is that the tank can not be lined with concrete (few are however). You will also want to ensure that the rubber components of the tank seals, pumps, and hoses are compatible with biodiesel (most are). Also, if you are living in a cold climate with an outdoor tank and are using high blends of biodiesel, then you will want to insulate and heat the tank or switch to a wintertime blend of B20 or less.
How does biodiesel work in cold weather?
Like any diesel fuel, biodiesel can gel at low temperatures; however, the gel point for 100% biodiesel is higher than petrol diesel. We therefore do not recommend the use of B100 below 40 degrees F. During the part of the year when temperatures drop below 40F, we recommend biodiesel concentrations of B50 or less. Concentrations of biodiesel at B20 or less behave almost identical to petroleum diesel in cold weather. Cold weather gadgets designed for traditionally fueled vehicles, such as engine block and fuel tank heaters, are helpful for cars running biodiesel in cold weather.
How does biodiesel compare with horsepower, fuel economy, and torque?
Almost identical to petroleum diesel. In terms of energy contained in the fuel, a gallon of biodiesel contains slightly less energy than a gallon of petroleum diesel. This is because alcohol molecules are attached to the ends of the fatty carbon chains in biodiesel, causing them to be slightly bulkier with slightly less concentrated energy. However, the increased lubricity of biodiesel helps to counteract this energy difference. The end result is that some drivers report a slight reduction (1%) in mileage, while others report slight increases. You not notice any difference at all.
Can I use biodiesel in my gasoline engine?
No. Go buy a diesel car like a Volkswagen TDI Jetta, new Beetle, or Golf, or a Chrysler Jeep Liberty, or Mercedes, or...
How do biodiesel's emissions compare to petroleum diesel's emissions?
Emissions from biodiesel are significantly improved compared to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel and biodiesel blends significantly reduce tailpipe emissions, especially carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulates (sooty black smoke). Using biodiesel decreases the cancer-causing risk of auto exhaust by 94%; B20 reduces this risk by 27%.
Can I switch back and forth between diesel and biodiesel?
Yes. Biodiesel is the ultimate flexible fuel, so you can switch back and forth between biodiesel and petroleum diesel whenever or however you want. One day you can fill with B100, then next tank B0 (straight petroleum diesel), the next B20, the next B5, etc. Remember that you can mix in any ratio: if you tank is halfway full with straight petroleum diesel, you can still fill it up with B100, or B20, or B5, or B-anything. The only caution is that if you use only straight petroleum diesel for an extended time (a year or more) then the walls of your fuel tank may have again accumulated some sediments and you might again want to think about checking your fuel filter after switching back to a high concentration of biodiesel.
How is biodiesel made?
Biodiesel is produced by mixing plant or animal fats or oils with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst. It is quite simple to make. You can even do it at home with ingredients you probably have lying around the kitchen. Making it on the industrial level, however, becomes more complicated especially as one must achieve a consistent standard of quality. The fundamentals remain the same. Start with raw vegetable oils, recycled cooking greases or oils, or animal fats. These all contain fatty acids which are first attached to glycerin molecules, but would prefer to be attached to alcohol molecules if given the choice. So if you mix these oil molecules with an alcohol, they will simply let go of the glycerin and grab onto the alcohol. This process is rather slow, but can be sped up by warming the oil a little and adding a catalyst like sodium hydroxide (lye). The result are chemicals called long chain mono alkyl esters, or biodiesel.
The mass balance works out in approximate proportions that 10 pounds of oils or fats are reacted with 1 pound of alcohol (usually methanol) to form 10 pounds of biodiesel and 1 pound of glycerine. Glycerine is a sugar, and is a co-product of the biodiesel process. It has lots of uses, too, such as conserving preserved fruit, providing a base for lotions, preventing freezing in hydraulic jacks, lubricating industrial molds, and as an ingredient for some printing inks, cakes, and candy making. Not to mention it could also be turned into nitroglycerin. Boom!
Is biodiesel safer to handle and store than petroleum diesel?
Yes, absolutely! Biodiesel is ten times less toxic than table salt and biodegrades faster than sugar. The EPA has tested biodiesel’s health effects extensively and has classified it as a non-toxic substance that poses absolutely no threat to human health. Biodiesel is such a clean fuel, in fact, that it is used to remediate petroleum spills in water.
The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel called BQ-9000®. The program is a unique combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.
BQ-9000® is open to any biodiesel manufacturer, marketer or distributor of biodiesel and biodiesel blends in the United States and Canada.
Fusion Renewables is a BQ-9000® MARKETER. This category is for distribution companies who sell biodiesel and biodiesel blends. This is an important designation, because proper handling of biodiesel is as critical to fuel quality as proper production.
It is the policy of Fusion Renewables LLC to provide the highest possible quality of products and services to satisfy customer needs and requirements. Fusion Renewables management recognizes that customer satisfaction is the most important element and that meeting our customer needs through quality of product and services is essential to our long-term survival and growth. Fusion Renewables LLC is committed to expending the necessary effort and resources to maintain a process-based quality management system conforming to the standards of BQ-9000 and ASTM D 6751 to guide activities throughout the organization and to facilitate continuous improvement in the quality of our product.