What is Biodiesel?

First of all we should start out by stating what biodiesel is not: biodiesel is not vegetable oil or used fryer oil.  Biodiesel is vegetable oil that has been chemically reacted to separate out the glycerin.  Biodiesel production yields two main products: methyl esters (biodiesel) and glycerin.  It is an alternative fuel made from biologically renewable sources such as, recycled vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. The use of biodiesel decreases the US dependence on foreign oil and helps create more jobs in America.

Technically, biodiesel is created from taking used fats, oils and/or greases and adding methanol to it, in the presence of a catalyst, to produce a fatty acid methyl ester.  A fatty acid methyl ester is a long chained hydrocarbon with several oxygen molecules built in it.  The oxygen molecules help the fuel burn more completely in an engine so you get better combustions and produce less smoke, which is why it biodegrades more rapidly in the environment than diesel fuel. Biodiesel is a non-toxic, safe material and does not have any of the poisonous compounds that petroleum products do.

Studies have shown that Biodiesel out performs most alternative fuels such as ethanol, in over-all fuel efficiency. Biodiesel has a higher cetane number than petroleum diesel fuel, yielding a high level of combustion quality during compression ignition. It has superior lubricity over any conventional diesel fuel to both the fuel injection pump and engine, extending the life of diesel engines. In addition, B20 biodiesel has similar fuel consumption, horse power and haulage rates as standard diesel fuel.

Already there are many companies nationwide using biodiesel as their main source for fuel. For example, the Yellowstone Nation Park bus system uses a blend of biodiesel and petroleum to run their whole fleet. Tests by the government have proven that biodiesel is overall, more functional and safe than petroleum based products. As fossil reserves run dry, petroleum prices escalate and engine exhaust restrictions get tighter, diesel engine users are looking for ways to improve their engine usage. Soon, biodiesel may become the standard for diesel energy.