Biodiesel Facts & Figures

Myth: Biodiesel is an experimental fuel and has not been thoroughly tested.

Fact: Biodiesel is one of the most thoroughly tested alternative fuels on the market. A number of independent studies have been completed with results showing biodiesel performs similar to petroleum diesel and benefits the environment and human health when compared to diesel. Biodiesel is the first and only alternative fuel to have completed the rigorous Health Effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. Biodiesel has been proven to perform similarly to diesel in more 50 million successful road miles in virtually all types of diesel engines, countless off-road miles, and marine hours.

Myth: A low-blend of biodiesel in diesel fuel will cost too much.

Fact: Using a 2-percent blend of biodiesel is estimated to increase the cost of diesel by 2 or 3 cents per gallon, including the fuel, transportation, storage, and blending costs. Any increase in cost will be accompanied by an increase in diesel quality since low-blend levels of biodiesel greatly enhance the lubricity of diesel fuel.

Myth: Biodiesel causes filters to plug.

Fact: Biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system. B100 has a solvent effect, which may release deposits that have accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel use and cause plugging. With blends of B20 or higher biodiesel, the release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken to replace fuel filters until the petroleum buildup is eliminated. This issue is less prevalent with B20 blends, and there is no evidence that lower-blend levels such as B2 have caused filters to plug.

Myth: Biodiesel causes degradation of engine gaskets and seals.

Fact: The recent switch to low-sulfur diesel fuel has caused most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to switch to components that are also suitable for use with biodiesel. In general, B100 can soften and degrade certain types of elastomers and natural rubber compounds through time. Using high-percent blends can impact fuel system components (i.e., primarily fuel hoses and fuel pump seals) that contain elastomer compounds incompatible with biodiesel, although the effect is less with lower biodiesel blend levels. Experience with B20 has found that no changes to gaskets, hoses, or the maintenance program are necessary.

Myth: No objective biodiesel fuel formulation standard exists.

Fact: The biodiesel industry has been active in setting standards for biodiesel since 1994 when the first biodiesel taskforce was formed within ASTM. ASTM approved a standard for biodiesel specification in December 2001.

Myth: Biodiesel does not have sufficient shelf life.

Fact: Today, most fuel is used within six months. Many petroleum companies do not recommend storing petroleum diesel for more than six months. The current industry recommendation is that biodiesel be used within six months, or reanalyzed after six months to ensure the fuel meets ASTM standard.