Five biodiesel myths busted

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biodiesel myths

Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition give five common biodiesel myths that are deceiving people about switching to biodiesel fuel.

1. “Using biodiesel will void my vehicle’s warranty”

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Virtually all of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who produce diesel vehicles and engines now approve the use of B20, the blend of biodiesel Minnesota requires during the warm weather months.  While a few foreign manufacturers have drug their heels at officially approving the use of biodiesel blends in their vehicles, they have stated clearly that using a B20 blend will not void any part of the warranty.

2. “Biodiesel is more expensive than petroleum diesel”

Like petroleum diesel, the price of biodiesel varies in different parts of the country, based on the fuel’s availability and what it is made from.  In Minnesota, fears of a big price hike due to the biodiesel requirement proved to be unfounded.  A diesel driver traveling through the Midwest would notice little difference between the cost of B20 in Minnesota and traditional petroleum diesel sold in neighboring states.  In fact, the cost of a gallon of fuel in Minnesota is almost always less than in the oil field region of North Dakota. (add graph from AFPR?)

3. “This is just using food for fuel”

This myth is easy to disprove.  In Minnesota, biodiesel is made from three feedstocks: soybean oil, corn oil, and waste grease.  Soybeans are a great source of protein for both people and livestock, but they also contain a lot of oil – more than we want or need for food.  Converting this excess oil to biodiesel actually help to reduce soy protein meal prices, reducing pressure on consumer prices. The corn oil used to make biodiesel is a co-product from ethanol production. It is inedible, and it requires no additional acres of production. Waste grease has already played its role in the food cycle – it makes a lot more sense to turn it into a cleaner-burning fuel than sending it to a landfill.

4. “Producing biodiesel wastes water and energy”

Nope. In fact, biodiesel has the greatest energy return of any approved motor fuel, providing 5.5 units of energy for every one unit used for production. It also uses significantly less water than petroleum refining requires.

5. “A twenty percent blend won’t make any difference”

By requiring a twenty percent biodiesel blend during the warm weather months, Minnesota has reduced annual emissions from diesel vehicles by an estimated 143 tons of particulate pollution and 1,600 tons of carbon monoxide.  It also reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.2 million tons. That’s a big difference.

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