What is biodiesel?
When Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine in the late 1800s, he designed it to be powered by peanut and other vegetable oils. That was before cheaper petroleum-based diesel fuel (petrodiesel) became widely available. Engine makers then altered Rudolph Diesel’s original engine to suit petrodiesel – but running on biofuels is what they were originally designed to do.
Biodiesel is commonly made from vegetable oils such as canola oil, animal fats (tallow) or recycled greases such as used cooking oil. Other feedstocks being developed include algae, pongamia trees and juncea (a species of mustard plant). These renewable feedstocks contain fatty acids which undergo process of condensation called transesterification (which was invented so that diesel engines could use biodiesel again). Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a blend to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Blends vary from as little as 5% (B5) to pure 100% biodiesel, and the most common blends are B5, B20 and B100.
Virtually all engines that take diesel can run on biodiesel, including cars, trucks, heavy machinery, construction equipment and ships. Most truck and equipment manufacturers are now very comfortable with B5, B20 and sometimes B100 fuels. If you are still unsure though, please refer to your equipment or vehicle manufacturer for their specifications as to whether or not biodiesel blended fuels are suited to your needs.