National Biodiesel Day: The Facts about Biodiesel

March 19, 2021

Biodiesel and renewable diesel have a success story to share. However, that often gets overshadowed by common misconceptions and myths. There are many assumptions about the biomass-based diesel fuel, but rest assured, the fuel is better, cleaner, and available right now for consumption.

Biodiesel, A Better Alternative
Biodiesel and renewable diesel are the most diverse fuels on the planet. They are made from a broad range of feedstocks, with soybean oil coming in at number one averaging more than 50 percent of the feedstocks annually. Today, biodiesel is the second largest user of soybean oil in the U.S. and its demand for soybean oil grew 300 percent in the last decade – accounting for an extra 13 percent in the soybean farmers’ pockets.

A Cleaner Choice
Biodiesel reduces lifecycle emissions by 85 percent or more compared to petroleum. It reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent, lowers particulate matter by 47 percent, reduces smog and makes our air healthier to breathe.

And that’s not all. New land is not required for biodiesel production. Processing biodiesel from soybeans uses only the oil portion of the soybean, leaving available protein to nourish livestock and humans. Biodiesel creates a new market for soybean oil, increasing the availability of protein rich meal for human and livestock consumption. Leaving strong benefits for both farmers and the consumer, resulting in more affordable food.

Available Now with Proven Performance
Biodiesel and renewable diesel are a simple solution for users. They fit seamlessly with today’s diesel infrastructure and can be used in existing diesel engines, storage tanks, and dispensers without modification. Typically blended with petroleum diesel at some level, biodiesel blends provide performance characteristics similar to diesel in fuel economy, horsepower, and torque while improving cetane and lubricity, which can extend engine life. No performance tradeoffs need to be made with this petroleum alternative.

However, just like gasoline and regular diesel, biodiesel does have to be properly managed. South Dakota experienced a cold winter, filled with snow covered ground and icy roads. The good news is biodiesel blends are successful in even the coldest of climates. Blends of B20 and above should be managed with similar techniques as other diesel vehicles. Blends of B5 and below have virtually no impact on cold weather operability when compared to conventional diesel fuel, which is good news for South Dakota’s soybean farmers.

Job Creator, Economy Driver
Biodiesel supports more than 60,000 American jobs. In fact, for every 100 million gallons of biodiesel that is produced – the industry creates 3,200 jobs. So, as biodiesel grows – so does its job-creating ability. Biodiesel drives economic benefits for manufacturing, service, transportation, and agriculture, to name a few, adding more than $12 billion to the U.S. economy.

The industry has a Vision to move from 3 billion to 6 billion gallons by 2030 with the help of today’s and tomorrow’s feedstock producers, and that won’t be possible if these many successes are outshined by the stories and myths of biodiesel’s past. The results are in, the facts are the facts – biodiesel is better, cleaner, and here now!

By: Samantha Turner, National Biodiesel Board. Published in the Spring 2021 Soybean Leader