Biodiesel is a clean burning, non-toxic biodegradable alternative fuel that can be combined at any level with petroleum diesel to fuel diesel engines. It is produced from renewable sources such as canola, soy or palm oils and animal fats, as well as low grade recycled cooking oils and trap grease.
It is important to note that raw or refined vegetable oils, or recycled greases that have not undergone chemical manufacturing are not biodiesel. The Canadian Renewable Fuels Association and National Biodiesel Board (United States) define biodiesel as a fuel that complies with the ASTM D6751 or EN14214 (European) fuel quality standards.
What are the Environmental and Economic Benefits of Biodiesel?
Compared to petroleum diesel, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions and harmful tailpipe emissions, including particulate matter (PM). Using biodiesel not only helps mitigate global warming, but also improves air quality and public health. Recycling trap grease and other low grade cooking oils into biodiesel reduces waste in landfills and sewage treatment plants. Biodiesel also increases fuel lubricity, and reduces engine wear and maintenance costs. Developing a biodiesel production industry in Canada will also benefit the agriculture sector.
View HIST 105 Foundations of Success (pdf), a presentation by Graham Noyes.
How Can Biodiesel be Used?
Biodiesel can be used in diesel equipment and blended with diesel fuel at any blend level. Biodiesel can be used in low percentage blends (B1 or B2) as a lubricity additive, which will be especially important for ultra low sulfur diesel fuels (ULSD, less than 15 ppm sulfur) which have poor lubricating properties. Using biodiesel or a biodiesel blend in a higher ratio (B5, B20 or B100) as an alternative fuel will reduce tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions.
What Types of Vehicles Can Use Biodiesel?
Biodiesel can be used in almost any diesel engine from long haul trucks and buses, to off-road vehicles, and marine vessels.
Biodiesel can also be used for home heating and back up generators. Little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system is required.
Biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken to replace these filters while using the first few tanks of biodiesel.
How Does Biodiesel Perform Compared to Petroleum Diesel?
In more than 50 million miles of in-field demonstrations in the US, B20 showed similar fuel consumption, horsepower, torque, and haulage rates as conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel also has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel (falling in the range between #1 and #2 diesel fuel).
View Slides 21-25 of Camil Legace Presentations on BioBus and BioMer. (pdf)
How Does Biodiesel Perform in Cold Weather?
Like No. 2 diesel, biodiesel will gel at very cold temperatures. This is more of a concern for B20 than for B5 or B2. This concern can be reduced if fleets use the same cold weather fuel management techniques as used for No. 2 diesel.
View the National Biodiesel Board and Cold Weather Consortium's Cold Weather Blending Study. (pdf)
How Do Biodiesel Emissions Compare to Petroleum Diesel?
Compared to petroleum diesel, biodiesel reduces both greenhouse gases, and tailpipe emissions.
Biodiesel Emissions Compared to Petroleum Diesel Emission B20
|Carbon Dioxide (a key Greenhouse Gas)||-16.0 %|
|Particulate Matter (linked to respiratory disease)||-18.0%|
|Unburned Hydrocarbons (smog/ozone)||-11.0%|
Note: The exact level of emissions is dependent on type of feedstock.
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a division of the U.S. Dept. of Energy
Estimate your fleet's emission reductions from using BioFleet's biodiesel emissions reduction calculator.
Is Biodiesel an "Experimental Fuel" or Has it Been Used Commercially?
Biodiesel has been used commercially on a large scale throughout Europe for many years, and the biodiesel industry is growing rapidly in the United States.
View Biodiesel Demonstrations.
View National Biodiesel Board Biodiesel Usage Checklist. (pdf)
How is Biodiesel Made?
Biodiesel is produced from any fat or oil such as canola oil, soybean oil or animal fats through a refinery process called transesterification. This process is a reaction of the oil with an alcohol to remove the glycerin, which is a by-product of biodiesel production. Pure, 100% biodiesel – called B100 – can then be blended in any proportion with petroleum diesel. The most common blends are B2, B5 and B20. As the percentage of the blended biodiesel is raised, reduction of harmful emissions also increases.
View Presentation on the Production of Biodiesel by Kevin Norton, Biox Corporation.
Can You Buy Biodiesel in Western Canada Today?
Biodiesel can be purchased in bulk from several distributors in different parts of western Canada and is now available at retail pumps primarily in British Columbia. View the BioMap for the location of the nearest retail station to you. Always contact the supplier about biodiesel availability and hours of operation.