What the Heck is Biodiesel?

Maybe you have heard the term, maybe you haven’t. You have most certainly heard of diesel because you see it at the gas stations. But, bio in front of diesel?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be used instead of the diesel fuel made from petroleum. Biodiesel can be made from vegetable oils and animal fats. In 2016, soybean oil was the source of about 55% of the total feedstock (raw material) used to produce biodiesel in the United States. Canola oil and corn oil were the source of about 22%, recycled grease about 13%, and animal fats about 10% of the total feedstock. Rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and palm oil are other major sources of the biodiesel that is consumed in other countries. Biodiesel fuels can be used in regular diesel engines (trucks, buses, cars, tractors) without making any changes to the engines. Biodiesel can also be stored and transported using diesel fuel tanks and equipment.”  (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=biofuel_biodiesel_home)

Photo via Getty Images

One of the reasons that biodiesel has become so important is because it is renewable and can come from sources that are easily produced, whereas diesel is derived from resources that cannot be replaced. Diesel relies on foreign oil. Biodiesel relies on sources we can produce on our homeland.

Today, between 35-40 billion gallons of diesel are being used annually on United States roadways and the biodiesel market is 2 to 3 billion gallons annually.  The goal of the biodiesel market is to get to 10% or roughly 4 billion gallons of annual usage by 2022.

Photo via truckinginfo.com

So why would I bring up biodiesel? It’s a topic that connects directly to the farmer whether it is our crops or livestock. I had the honor and privilege of recently attending some of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo (www.biodieselconference.org) in Fort Worth, TX, thanks to National Biodiesel Board (www.nbb.org) member and friend, Greg Anderson.

Directly from Biodiesel.org:

Why should I use biodiesel?
Biodiesel is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. Produced domestically with natural resources, its use decreases our dependence on imported fuel and contributes to our own economy.

Where do I get biodiesel?
Biodiesel is available nationwide. It can be purchased directly from biodiesel producers and marketers, petroleum distributors, or at a handful of public retailers throughout the nation.

The Biodiesel industry has many challenges ahead in developing more infrastructure and becoming a more demanded fuel. Regardless, biodiesel has some wonderful benefits to our environment, as well as the opportunity to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil by leveraging our homeland’s resources with farmers.