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Home / Technical Articles / Biodiesel – Myths and Facts
Biodiesel cycle
Biodiesel releases only the CO2 that was absorbed by the plants as they were growing and making oil

What is Biodiesel?

Few facts you most probably know already, but never the less to mention:

  1. A clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources such as plant oils, animal fats, used cooking oil and even new sources such as algae.
  2. Contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend.
  3. Biodiesel blends can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications.
  4. Simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
  5. Biodiesel is not raw vegetable oil.
  6. Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to strict industry specifications (ASTM D6751) in order to ensure proper performance.
  7. Biodiesel is also not the same as ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable biofuel made primarily from corn and intended for use in gasoline-powered engines, while biodiesel is a renewable biofuel made from a variety of materials and designed for use in diesel engines, with different properties and benefits.


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 – performed by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Lab, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Stanadyne Corp. (the largest diesel fuel injection equipment manufacturer in the U.S.), Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and Southwest Research Institute – have shown that biodiesel performs comparably to petroleum diesel but with greater benefits to the environment and human health.

Biodiesel does not perform as well as diesel.

FACT: One of the major advantages of biodiesel is the fact that it can be used in most existing diesel engines and fuel injection equipment in blends up to 20 percent with little impact to operating performance. Biodiesel has a higher cetane number than U.S. diesel fuel. In more than 50 million miles of in-field demonstrations, B20 showed similar fuel consumption, horsepower, torque, and haulage rates as conventional diesel fuel.

Biodiesel also has superior lubricity, and it has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel (falling in the range between #1 and #2 diesel fuel).

Biodiesel in any blend is incompatible with the new 2010+ diesel engine technologies

FACT: The new engine emission control systems in the 2010+ vehicles are all still easily compatible with blends up to at least B5. Rumours about incompatibility stem from concerns about the possibility of increased engine oil dilution that can come into play with the use of higher biodiesel blends (B10 and higher) in the few new light-duty diesel vehicles that utilize an emissions control system with in-cylinder post-injection technology.

Biodiesel contributes to rising food prices.

FACT: Produced from a variety of renewable resources, such as plant oils, fats, recycled grease, and even algae, biodiesel is the most diverse fuel on the planet. And soybean-based biodiesel actually has a positive impact on the world’s food supply. Processing biodiesel from soybeans uses only the oil portion of the soybean, leaving all of the protein available to nourish livestock and humans.

By creating a new market for soybean oil, we increase the availability of protein-rich meal for human and livestock consumption. The increased meal supply results in a more cost-effective food and feed source.

Biodiesel increases greenhouse gases because it causes land to be cleared.

FACT: U.S. biodiesel reduces life-cycle carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent, depending on the source, making it the best carbon reduction tool of any liquid fuel commercially available. Biodiesel is the first advanced bio-fuel to make it to market.

It has the highest energy balance of any fuel, returning 4.5 units of energy for every unit of fossil energy needed to produce it.

Biodiesel doesn’t work in cold weather.

FACT: Properly managed, high quality biodiesel blends are used successfully in the coldest of climates. Biodiesel will gel in very cold temperatures, just as common #2 diesel does. Although pure biodiesel has a higher cloud point than #2 diesel fuel, typical blends of 20 percent biodiesel are managed with similar management techniques as #2 diesel.

Blends of 5 percent biodiesel and less have virtually no impact on cold weather operability.

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Bipul Raman

Bipul Raman (@BipulRaman) is a Technology Enthusiast, Programmer and Blogger. Read more at :


  1. kannan749
    Dec 21, 2021

    Informative , thanks !

  2. Neri Garampiel
    May 18, 2018

    Please consider palm oil as one of the main sources of biodiesel. There are bountiful plantations in southeast Asian countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Papua New Guinea) including Australia and in several African and Latin American countries.

  3. Raphael
    Dec 14, 2013

    Corn aren’t a main source of alcohol.
    Sugar cane or cana-de-açúcar is responsible for 90% of total production of this renewable combustible

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