Understanding Biodiesel Blending and What it Means for Consumers

October 31, 2012

During the past few decades, there has been a growing debate over America's dependency on oil, leading many people towards biodiesel blending. Based upon the theory that the world will eventually run out of petroleum, many experts suggest that the global economies will have to find other alternative sources to fuel their plants, power tools and modes of transportation. This being the case, it seems that biodiesel blending will be the next step in creating an alternative fuel supply for both the United States as well as the rest of the world.

What Is Biodiesel?

Biodiesal is a form of fuel that comes from a simple process of mixing vegetable oil, used or fresh, with methanol to form a product that will fire fuel engines. It has been shown that biodiesel can be made from used vegetable oil from restaurants and other places that use a steady supply of corn or vegetable oils for cooking. This type of fuel can be used in diesel engines when biodiesel blending occurs. Blending is when one takes a product of biodiesel and mixes it with normal gasoline. Biodiesel blends come in many forms although the most popular are B5 biodiesel, B15, B20, and B90.

How Does It Work?

Just as a combustible fuel, biodiesel will ignite once it reaches a certain temperature. The addition of the methanol product gives the biodiesel blend the lower flash point as well as a longer burning time. This is very similar to regular diesel in the fact that it acts in the same manner. In newer automobiles, it can be used in its pure form of B100 biodiesel, which is pure biodiesel without any blending. However, it should be noted that this fuel can only be used in diesel engines and cannot be run in regular car engines. A biodiesel blend of 10 percent or less must be used in regular automobile engines.

Future Fuel Possibilities 

Although many people would like to think that biodiesel will be the fuel of the future, there are many kinks that must be worked out first. For instance, to make biodiesel, it takes a lot of vegetable oil to get a return of just a small amount of fuel. Based on this fact, there are not enough restaurants that could provide the United States with the required amount of oil to turn it into diesel. Therefore, people will have to begin growing crops especially for the production of ethanol, which has the potential to create problems in itself. No matter what the outcome, the world will have to become less dependent on fossil fuels and more dependent on renewable resources in the future. Biodiesel blending has the potential to become the most efficient manner in which to relieve our total dependence on crude oil alone for our gasoline supply. Many gas stations have already made the switch to the E10 form of gasoline that incorporates about ten percent of ethanol into the mixture of petroleum. 

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