News and information about Biodiesel & alternative fuels.


A Quote has a quote from Rudolf Diesel on their Buying Biodiesel page:
"The use of plant oil as fuel may seem insignificant today. But such products can in time become just as important as kerosene and these coal-tar-products of today."

-Rudolf Diesel in the year 1912 in his application for a patent, in a time where energy crises, climate changes and ozone holes not yet were discussed.

Montana Followup

The Montana Forum has an article that follows up on my previous post about biodiesel in Montana:
"They may not smell as good as french fries, but Missoula’s snowplows may be a bit less stinky this winter. This month, the city motor fleet is starting a pilot project testing biodiesel fuel in its tanks. A new public tank at the Cenex station on Brooks Street is expected to open in late November, and the city trucks will be buying $2,500 worth of fuel there this winter..."

"Stucky told the council’s Public Works Committee on Wednesday that the fuel would cut air pollution levels in his vehicles. But he was particularly pleased at a potential side effect of biofuel additives. Commercial diesel fuels have had most of their sulphur content removed in another pollution-reducing effort. But that sulphur was needed to keep fuel injectors and other engine parts lubricated. Stucky said it appears biofuels may return some of that lubricating quality to the tank."


Diesel Comeback?

Washington Post, Will New, Cleaner Diesel Cars Fuel Comeback in U.S.?:
"Because of advances in electronics, diesel vehicles now do a far better job of controlling how fuel burns in the engine, eliminating much of the smoke and noise of 20 years ago. That allows some of diesel's good qualities to shine: It gets 20 to 40 percent better fuel economy than gasoline power. Diesel engines tend to be far more durable than gasoline engines, routinely lasting for many hundreds of thousands of miles. A diesel has tremendous low-end power, which is good for hauling boats or jumping off the line at a stoplight..."

"'Historically, agencies concerned about the environment have not been big fans of diesel, but the new technology that's emerged in the last few years has actually made us big supporters,' said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator in charge of programs to control air pollution. EPA projections show that if diesels accounted for a third of all vehicle-miles traveled in the country by 2020, the nation could save a million barrels of fuel a day and consumers could save more than $20 billion per year..."

"The trick is getting Americans to believe that in sufficient numbers to make diesel profitable to the manufacturers. Volkswagen's best-selling diesel model is the New Beetle, with a fuel-efficiency rating -- about 50 miles per gallon -- and sales volume -- nearly 57,000 last year -- that are both comparable to Toyota's Prius hybrid."
[if a login is required for the Post's site, try BugMeNot]


Biodiesel in Montana

This morning's article is from the Missoula Independent of Western Montana:
"Cenex and Missoula-based biodiesel refiner Sustainable Systems are hoping B20 will prove a next step toward cleaner air, a richer local economy and profits... 'First we tell [potential customers] that it’s a little more expensive than a petroleum-based product, but that it’s a better engine lubricant,' says Miller. 'The second thing we tell them is that this is an agricultural-based, domestically produced product, so your dollar that’s spent on this product stays in the United States and is recycled. The third thing is the positive environmental impact.'"

"'When people ask me, 'Why is biodiesel so expensive?' I ask them, 'Why is petroleum so cheap?' he says. 'Then I explain that when people are buying cheap petroleum, they are buying a product that's not good for the environment, it's not sustainable and the true cost is higher than people think, because you're paying for petroleum with your taxes to support the military and with your taxes to support the petroleum industry subsidies.'"

"The Cenex on Brooks will be the first B20 pump in Montana; if the business takes off, Cenex will expand beyond Missoula. Biodiesel has been regularly available in the Midwest for several years. Last week, a retail Biodiesel pump opened outside Denver, and the U.S. Navy has announced plans to recycle its used cooking oil into biodiesel to run its diesel vehicles."


Biodiesel in Tennessee

The Daily Times of Maryville, Tennessee is talking about biodiesel:
"Tennessee is known for horses, whiskey, music and rifles. What about Tennessee diesel fuel, crafted from homegrown soybeans? That's exactly what East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition director Jonathan Overly has in mind, and he describes it as a way to both reduce the nation's dependence on imported petroleum and improve the air quality of the Tennessee Valley."

"On a regional level, Knoxville Area Transit and the cities of Sevierville and Chattanooga are among those who have expressed interest in weaning their fleets off traditional diesel... Of course, it will cost about 22 cents to 27 cents more a gallon, but savings in fuel economy and federal tax incentives could serve to even the difference, B-20 proponents said. Unquantifiable improvements in area air quality could also result."

Emissions: "The non-toxic, biodegradable B-20 can cut emissions of hydrocarbons by 20 percent; carbon monoxide by 12 percent, particulate matter by 12 percent, sulfur oxides by 20 percent and cancer-causing compounds by 20 percent."

Protein byproduct: "The B-20 manufacturing process -- the soy oil must have its glycerin removed to operate effectively in an engine -- yields a large amount of protein byproduct, which can be mixed with corn to provide a cheap, nutritious food source for export."


Keeping the $ Local

John Scalzi says of Wired's article, "The story opens with a car running on soybean oil, which will no doubt please my neighbors, who plant soybeans. I'm pleased to, since as I said before, ultimately I'd rather have my gas money go next door than overseas."

Indeed! And I'd rather have my gas money go to a renewable energy source than one due to expire in several decades:
The world's oil reserves are up to 80 percent less than predicted, a team from Sweden's University of Uppsala says. Production levels will peak in about 10 years' time, they say... Oil production levels will hit their maximum soon after 2010 with gas supplies peaking not long afterwards, the Swedish geologists say. At that point prices for petrol and other fuels will reach disastrous levels."

Wired on Biodiesel

Wired News has a new article about biodiesel, discussing how (among other things) a Minnesota county plans to operate its entire diesel-powered fleet on 5% biodiesel, after two years of testing with its snowplows. It gets better though:
"Minnesota has passed a law requiring that all diesel fuel in the state contain 2 percent biodiesel by 2005. Similar legislation was introduced in Ohio last September. And provisions in the energy bill, currently being hotly debated in the Senate, would give a tax break for biodiesel."


"Biodiesel reduces carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate-matter emissions between 10 percent and 20 percent compared with conventional diesel. It essentially eliminates exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates, which are major components of acid rain."


"Biodiesel is not only healthier, but it also, curiously, smells better. According to many who've worked with the fuel, biodiesel exhaust smells a bit like french fries or fresh popcorn -- a vast improvement over the usual noxious fumes that spew from most diesel engines."

Bush's Energy Bill at a Glance

Here are some main points from a Yahoo! News glance at the Bush administration's Energy Bill:
  • A doubling of ethanol production for gasoline to 5 billion gallons a year by 2012
  • Authority and financial help to build a $20 billion pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska's North Slope.
  • Tax incentives aimed at improving energy efficiency of homes and some appliances and at encouraging use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biodiesel.
It's great to see biodiesel mentioned in some national legislation.

Thanks Matt!

My first exposure to the notion of biodiesel fuel was this post on Matt Haughey's blog, back in December, 2002:
"This week, when it came time to finally replace one of our old cars, I knew what we should consider first: a new VW. While looking around at the models, we found the turbo diesel was available in the Jetta Wagon, and I'm happy to say we're now the proud owners of a 2003 model."


"It can run on biodiesel (actually runs cleaner and easier on the engine), which doesn't contain any fossil fuels at all. That's right, it's fuel you can home brew, without having to extract it from wells deep in the earth."
This intrigued me intensely, and soon after moving to California last year I began inquiring about the SF Bay Area's biodiesel presence. It seems there are several pumps around- San Francisco, Millbrae, Fremont. I'd already purchased a non-diesel VW recently, so diesel sorta dropped off my radar for a while.

Fast-forward six or so months- unleaded gas was costing ~ $2.20/gallon out here, while diesel was going for around $1.70. I started researching it again, and this link compilation was the result. Though I haven't yet purchased a diesel vehicle, a Golf TDI will likely be my next car. I created this blog to track news and information about biodiesel as it appears on the web.