Cost of Biodiesel Compared to Other Alternative Fuels

October 31, 2012

Usually the cost of biodiesel is far lower than other fuels. With the rising cost of petroleum, there has been an active interest in alternative fuels that will reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. Biofuels are really great and they can be readily produced in large amounts to run transportation engines like cars and mass transit. The National Energy Board also has a complete listing of the refineries that are actively producing biodiesel.  But you will find that there are several factors that come into play when you are buying the fuel. Here are a few factors that play an important role in deciding the cost of biodiesel fuel.

Biodiesel Production Affecting Fuel Prices

It takes five barrels of crude oil to produce enough energy to run a Honda Civic from California to New York. Biofuels, on the other hand, have an energy content of about 80,000 BTU and burns far cleaner than gasoline. For example, a gallon of Ethanol has a far better energy rating of 80,000 BTU as compared to that of gasoline, which has a 124,800 BTU.

  • The problem that arises is that most biofuels cannot run an engine alone. They have to be combined with other fuels like diesel of gasoline to get the desired effects in the current engine. For example, methanol has to be combined with natural gas to get the best energy. This raises the amount you are spending on your annual fuel budget.
  • Researchers also claim that even though the fuel is cheap, the actual energy required to grow the corn and distill it into alcohol, or to make biodiesels is far more than the energy you get from burning alcohol. This substantially negates the cost savings. as you are releasing the same amount of emissions into the atmosphere as gasoline fuels.
  • Another problem is that alcohol is corrosive and the actual equipment used to produce the fuel has to be coated with expensive corrosion resistant coatings.
  • Pure biodiesel unlike methanol and ethanol can be used by diesel engines. But pure biodiesel is actually priced at a dollar more than ordinary gasoline. You also have to add more products to the biodiesel to make sure they are liquid at low temperatures. For example, higher-concentration blends labeled as B30, B100 turn from liquids into solids and they cannot be used in cars. Fuel warmers have to be added to make fuel liquid.
  • The prices of the oil also depend on the seasonal availability of the oil or the corn starch required for producing the biodiesel. For example, food crops like corn have to be used to produce ethanol and methanol, while temperature sensitive algae is required to produce biofuel
  • The price is also dependent on the number of producers who are making the fuel. The greater the number of producers, the lower the rate.

Biodiesel prices are completely dependent on the prevailing factors at the time. Make sure that you check with local biodiesel price sites where you can check local dealers and prices.

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