With gas prices fluctuating and the Obama administration devoted to reducing America’s reliance on oil, Americans appear to be more interested in alternative fuels, such as those derived from farm crops and other renewable organic sources. Biodiesel and vegetable oil, both of which can be used to power a diesel engine, are among the most readily available.
Biodiesel, which is made from vegetable or animal fats, is chemically equivalent to petroleum diesel. Adherents claim it emits far less pollution than ordinary diesel.
Biodiesel is most typically supplied in mixes with regular diesel, such as B5, which contains 5% biodiesel and 95% petroleum fuel, and B20, which contains 20% biodiesel. According to the US Department of Energy, B20 costs around 20 cents per gallon more than petroleum diesel. B100 (pure biodiesel) costs about 85 cents per gallon more than conventional diesel.
Plain, edible cooking oil is a cousin of biodiesel. However, because cooking oil from grocery store shelves is not economically viable (a gallon costs approximately $8), some people are converting diesel engines to run on old deep-fryer oil that restaurants frequently discard. Discarded oil is sometimes given away for free, but more restaurants are beginning to charge for it.
We adapted a diesel-powered 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDI to run on biodiesel (B5 and B100) and fryer grease to test how they compare to standard petroleum diesel fuel. We discovered that they all permitted the car to perform adequately, but that the price and convenience of each varies.
B5, a biodiesel mix with 5% biodiesel, gave us the greatest overall performance. It was the most efficient in terms of performance, emissions, fuel economy, and convenience. B5 may be used in any diesel engine without requiring any modifications to the vehicle, and it is injected into the tank exactly like regular gasoline. However, because it is made out of 95% petroleum diesel, it offers little to help drivers transition away from fossil fuels.
Our Jetta performed admirably on recycled cooking oil, but the hassle of locating fuel sources and preparing the oil for use in the engine limits its appeal and negates its low cost.
New diesel automobiles with up to 20% biodiesel blends are now being warrantied by automakers. Engineers say they detect too many contaminants and irregularities in the gasoline at concentrations higher than that, or on cooking oil, to be comfortable extending warranty coverage.
Can you use regular diesel in a biodiesel engine?
No, biodiesel is made through a chemical process known as transesterification, which turns natural oils and fats into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Vegetable oil combustion without conversion to biodiesel results in soot deposition and deposits, which can cause power loss and engine failure. See What Is Biodiesel for more information.
If your vehicle was built before 1993, the rubber gasoline lines will almost certainly need to be replaced. One of the most significant advantages of using biodiesel is that it can be utilized in existing diesel engines without compromising performance. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel for heavy-duty vehicles that does not necessitate specific injection or storage.
It’s worth noting that newer diesel Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes cars (2007 or after) feature a fuel system with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) that can cause fuel/oil dilution in the diesel engine, regardless of whether diesel or biodiesel fuel is used. If certain safeguards are not taken, the engine oil may be diluted by the fuel over time. One suggestion is to make sure you use your diesel engine on a regular basis. Furthermore, if you use 100 percent biodiesel in these vehicles, you must change the oil at least every 3,000 miles and keep an eye on the oil level (this is not an issue with vehicles using biodiesel blends, such as B20). If you have any questions, please contact our biodiesel fuel experts.
“Federal law forbids the voiding of a warranty solely because biodiesel was used,” the US Department of Energy explains in its Biodiesel Handling & Use Guide. The failure would have to be traced back to the biodiesel. If an engine fails due to biodiesel use (or any other external circumstance, such as dirty diesel fuel), the damage may not be covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee.”
No, biodiesel may only be used in diesel engines with a compression ignition system.
Biodiesel functions as a solvent. It will remove a lot of the diesel deposits that have built up in your fuel tank. This may cause early fuel filter clogging, but it will not result in a higher frequency of filter changes if you continue to use biodiesel.
Vehicles that run on biodiesel achieve nearly the same MPG as those that run on petroleum. Find out more.
Yes, biodiesel can help you get more mileage out of your engine. Biodiesel has better lubricating characteristics, which helps to keep crucial engine parts from wearing out.
Using biodiesel instead of petrodiesel will dramatically reduce tail pipe emissions of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Sulfur oxides and sulfates, which are important contributors to acid rain, will be almost eliminated. Nitrogen oxide emissions may rise slightly, however this can be mitigated by the use of newer low-emission diesel engines. Find out more.
Click here to see a complete list of filling stations that sell biodiesel.
Petrodiesel is not present in pure biodiesel, B100 (100 percent biodiesel). Biodiesel can be combined with petrodiesel and sold as B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petrodiesel blend) or B5 (50 percent biodiesel, 50 percent petrodiesel blend) (5 percent biodiesel, 95 percent petrodiesel blend).
Is biodiesel fuel the same as diesel fuel?
Biodiesel has a higher oxygen content than petroleum diesel (typically 10 to 12 percent). As a solvent, biodiesel is more chemically active than petroleum diesel. As a result, some compounds that are generally regarded acceptable for diesel fuel may be more aggressive. Biodiesel is a significantly safer alternative to petroleum diesel.
Is biodiesel still diesel?
Biodiesel in its purest form is rarely utilized. It’s usually combined with diesel and labeled according to how much diesel it contains. According to Edmunds, biodiesel may be found in practically all “normal” fuel sold at petrol stations in the United States, with blends as high as B5. While many drivers of diesel trucks and cars are unaware that the fuel they put in their vehicles contains 5% biodiesel, fleet operators actively seek nonpetroleum fuel. In fact, B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% gasoline, is used in many fleet and commercial vehicles.
The cost of manufacturing biodiesel is comparable to the cost of producing petroleum. Federal initiatives that give incentives have helped to keep market prices competitive. Biodiesel has also benefited from federal low-sulfur diesel fuel requirements.
Can I put biodiesel in my Duramax?
GM has yet to officially debut its next-generation Duramax diesel engine, but the firm announced today that the new engine, which will power the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD models, can run on a 20% biodiesel blend (B20).
Can I put biodiesel in my diesel truck?
Vehicles that run on biodiesel and regular diesel are identical. Although light, medium, and heavy-duty diesel vehicles are not strictly alternative fuel vehicles, they can almost all run on biodiesel blends. The most popular biodiesel mix is B20, which contains anywhere from 6% to 20% biodiesel and petroleum diesel. However, B5 (a biodiesel mix containing 5% biodiesel and 95% diesel) is widely utilized in fleet cars. Many diesel vehicles can run on B20 and lower-level blends without any engine modifications.
Biodiesel increases the fuel’s cetane number and improves its lubricity. A greater cetane number indicates that the engine will start more easily and with less delay. To keep moving parts from wearing down prematurely, diesel engines rely on the lubricity of the fuel. Improved lubricity decreases friction between moving parts, resulting in less wear. Biodiesel has a number of advantages, one of which is that it can improve the lubricity of the fuel at mix levels as low as 1%.
B5 is approved by all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). However, verify the OEM engine warranty to see if higher-level mixes of this alternative fuel, such as B20, are acceptable. For more information on OEM certifications for biodiesel use in automobiles, go to the Clean Fuels Alliance America website.
Is biodiesel cheaper than diesel?
How does biodiesel compare to ordinary petroleum diesel as its use grows in the marketplace? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Here are four factors to consider while assessing the potential impact on fleet.
1. Cost Analysis
When comparing biodiesel prices, the National Biodiesel Board recommends using the following formula: For each percent of biodiesel blended with petrodiesel, add one penny per gallon. B-5, for example, would cost about five cents per gallon more than petrodiesel. B-20 would cost an extra 20 cents, and so on.
The Department of Energy’s handbook provides another option “Alternative Fuel Price Report for Clean Cities,” available at www.eere.energy.gov/afdc. Biodiesel pricing for low-level blends (B-2 to B-5) are nearly the same as conventional diesel, according to the September 2005 edition, $2.81 per gallon biodiesel against $2.81 regular diesel. Blends with B-20 are around ten cents extra at $2.91. Pure biodiesel (B-100), at $3.40 per gallon, is about 59 cents more expensive than conventional diesel.
2. Pollution Impact
According to the report, “In “Clean Alternative Fuels: Biodiesel,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows how biodiesel compares to normal diesel in terms of emissions.
The rise in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions is alarming because NOx is a major contributor to ozone formation. Fuel suppliers for fleets, such as Eastman Chemical, blend appropriate additives with biodiesel to counteract and reduce NOx emissions. For example, according to NREL-sponsored research, adding cetane enhancers such di-tert-butyl peroxide at 1% or 2-ethylhexl nitrate at 5% can lower NOx emissions. The study also claims that combining biodiesel with kerosene or Fischer-Tropsch diesel can lower NOx emissions.
“Biodiesel is a superior alternative for fleets interested in decreasing petroleum usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and regulatory pollutants,” adds NREL’s McCormick.
3. Gasoline Quality
“The only drawback we faced in transitioning to biodiesel was a gasoline quality issue with our prior supplier,” explains Curtis of Eastman Chemical. Biodiesel that does not satisfy high quality standards can reduce engine performance, clog filters and injectors, and result in a slew of other expensive repairs.
Eastman Chemical changed suppliers within the first two months of their biodiesel program and hasn’t had any fuel problems since. Curtis strongly advises fleet managers who are considering using biodiesel to double-check that their fuel supply follows ASTM D6751 criteria. The American Society of Testing and Materials International (ASTM) is one of several international standard-setting organizations that have approved biodiesel requirements.
In the United States, ASTM D6751 is the most commonly cited standard. The goal of this guideline is to safeguard customers from subpar products, lower the cost of buying and selling biodiesel, and simplify the procurement process.
“The benefits can only be obtained if high-quality biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751 requirements is utilized for mixing,” warns McCormick. “Biodiesel that isn’t up to grade can create engine difficulties and increased emissions.”
What effect does biodiesel have on engine performance when compared to normal diesel? The Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) estimates that using pure biodiesel results in a 5-7 percent reduction in maximum power output. That’s with biodiesel that’s 100 percent biodiesel. Lower ratio blends, such as B-2, B-5, or even B-20, appear to have little, if any, impact on perceived performance as long as fuel quality meets ASTM criteria. The greater lubricity of biodiesel is one performance problem. On the one hand, high lubricity helps to reduce early wear and tear in the fuel system. H
However, when switching from conventional diesel to biodiesel, the enhanced lubricity may pose issues. It can, for example, operate as a solvent for some fuel system components and concrete-lined tanks, releasing deposits built up on tank walls and pipes from diesel fuel storage, causing fuel filter blockages at first. The EPA recommended that car owners replace their fuel filters after the first tank of gas.
Another point of worry is how well it performs in cold conditions. In his analytical paper “Biodiesel Performance, Costs, and Use,” Anthony Radich of the Department of Energy writes, “The performance of biodiesel in cold temperatures is considerably inferior than that of petroleum diesel.”
He claims that the temperature at which wax crystals can develop in a vehicle’s fuel system and potentially clog fuel lines and filters is higher than that of petroleum diesel.
What can you use instead of diesel?
The usage of cleaner fuels can help to reduce emissions. Low sulphur diesel (LSD), ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD), biodiesel, biodiesel mixes with petroleum diesel, and emulsified diesel are all alternatives to regular diesel.
When compared to non-road diesel fuel, low sulphur diesel has a sulphur level of 300-500ppm and reduces particulate matter (PM) by 10-20%. (which can have a sulphur content as high as 3000 – 5000ppm).
Ultra low sulphur diesel is a refined, cleaner fuel that has no more than 15 parts per million of sulphur and may be used in any diesel engine. It reduces fine PM emissions by 5 to 9%, depending on the baseline sulphur content, but when used in conjunction with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), it can cut emissions by 60 to 90%.
Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils and animal fats, both new and old. Biodiesel is safe, biodegradable, and reduces particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrocarbons (HC) emissions; but, it can cause an increase in nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from the engine. It can be utilized in its pure form (B100) if engine modifications are made, however it is more commonly mixed as 20% biodiesel with 80% normal diesel (B20), resulting in a 10% reduction in PM but a 2% rise in NOx emissions. Biodiesel’s production uses a closed carbon cycle that grows and processes plants to produce fresh fuel, which helps to minimize CO2 emissions throughout its existence. Biodiesel may also clean the engine, resulting in a cleaner engine that emits less smoke, runs more smoothly, and makes less noise.
Emulsified diesel is a mixture of diesel, water, and additional additives that results in lower PM and NOx emissions. Emulsified diesel can be used in any diesel engine, however adding water diminishes the energy content of the fuel, lowering engine power and efficiency. Emulsified diesel can lower NOx emissions by 10 to 20% and ultrafine PM emissions by 50 to 60%.
According to studies, both biodiesel (BD) and butanol diesel (DBu) blends can successfully reduce PM and elemental carbon emissions when compared to ULSD, with butanol being more effective than biodiesel. Butanol blended fuels have a lower gas exhaust temperature and release lower PM and NOx levels than biodiesel fuels, but they also have a greater level of CO and unburned HC emissions.
When the amount of waste-edible-oil-biodiesel is increased in petroleum-diesel and biodiesel blended fuels, PM and particle organic carbon (OC) emissions fall dramatically. When acetone and isopropyl alcohol are added to biodieselhols, the concentration of PM and particle OC emissions is significantly reduced.
As biodiesel and biodiesel fuel blends become more commonly employed in the construction and demolition industries, their PM and NOx emissions will become more significant, necessitating further research.
Does biodiesel damage your engine?
Poor-quality biodiesel may not have an immediate influence on the running of your engine, but deposits, corrosion, and damage can build up over time until your engine breaks catastrophically.
Can I use 100% biodiesel?
B100 is a 100% biodiesel fuel. Only with modifications can a normal diesel engine run on pure biodiesel. Biodiesel will coagulate in freezing conditions, causing seals in ancient diesel vehicles to deteriorate.
Can I mix biodiesel with diesel?
The ethyl ester of pongamia pinnata has a higher calorific value than the ethyl ester of mustard oil. The calorific values of Blend A and Blend B are similar to diesel, which is more than single biodiesel blends, thanks to the combination of dual biodiesels and diesel.