August 10 was International Biodiesel Day. That may have you wondering – why does a fuel deserve its own day of recognition? Biodiesel is no ordinary fuel!! By definition, biodiesel means 100% biodiesel, which is why it is labeled B100. Since it is derived from vegetable oils and other organic oils, and contains no petroleum, B100 is recognized as an alternative and renewable fuel.
So what exactly is it? Biodiesel is a fuel made by combining alcohol (usually methanol) with vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking grease. It can be blended and used in many different concentrations. Mixtures of biodiesel and petroleum diesel are referred to as biodiesel blends and are designated as B2, B10, B20 ,etc., with the number indicating the percentage of biodiesel in the blend. The most common are B5 (up to 5% biodiesel) and B20 (6% to 20% biodiesel). B100 (pure biodiesel).
A common misconception is that biodiesel is just raw (or used) vegetable oil. Although biodiesel is usually derived at least partly from vegetable oil, the oil must be chemically processed into fuel. Raw vegetable oil or used fryer grease cannot and should not ever be used as a fuel directly.
Biodiesel has several environmental benefits when compared to petroleum-based diesel fuel:
- Uses readily available, diverse resources, so new land is not required for production.
- Llifecycle greenhouse gases by 86 percent
- Hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent
- Particulate matter by 47 percent
- The biodiesel industry supports nearly 60,000 jobs and generates billions of dollars in GDP, household income, and tax revenues.