News and information about Biodiesel & alternative fuels.


San Francisco's Biodiesel Plans

The SF Bay Guardian has some more info on San Francisco's biodiesel plans:
"Muni and the San Francisco Fire Department plan to test biodiesel in their vehicles sometime next year. Depending on the supply that's made available, the Fire Department hopes to use 1,000 gallons of 20 percent biodiesel for six months, then up its consumption to 12,000 gallons a month. Muni, with about 600 diesel buses, could use much more fuel, though it hasn't offered any estimates yet. Muni typically consumes about seven million gallons of diesel fuel per year."

Biodiesel Car Rentals in Hawaii

The Sep/Oct issue of Via Magazine mentions that visitors to Maui can rent biodiesel-powered VW Beetles, Golfs, and Jeep Liberties for $199/week. From the FAQ:
"The idea for a biodiesel rental car has been a long-time dream of Shaun Stenshol, owner of Maui Recycling. He and partner Pamela Miedtke-Wolf, are constantly looking for ways to make Maui self sustaining, and their lives as close to zero waste as possible. Maui Recycling Service, plus, Shaun and Pam currently use 100% Biodiesel (B100) in all their vehicles. Making Bio-Beetle a reality was just another way to show what we can do, right now, to help protect the planet."


Slashdot reports on a potential biodiesel production breakthrough.


Palm Oil's Environmental Toll

FUD from The Guardian: The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis

Veg My Ride will soon be selling a DVD-based video guide for converting diesel engines to SVO; the site has a Quicktime preview.

SF Biodiesel Blog

Eric Bowen of the San Francisco Biofuels Co-op is now blogging:


Biofuel and Rainforests

New Scientist reports that an unfortunate side-effect of the rush to ramp up biofuel production is rainforest deforestation:
"The rush to make energy from vegetable oils is being driven in part by European Union laws requiring conventional fuels to be blended with biofuels, and by subsidies equivalent to 20 pence a litre. Last week, the British government announced a target for biofuels to make up 5 per cent of transport fuels by 2010. The aim is to help meet Kyoto protocol targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."
More commentary over at 37Signals.

[Via SvN]


Biodiesel Not Just for Cars Anymore

Wired reports on biodiesel-as-heating-oil for home use:
"Biodiesel previously was overlooked as a heating fuel because heating oil was cheaper. But prices for conventional heating oil have doubled since 2001...

... the National Biodiesel Board's website now lists 19 companies that supply biodiesel-blended heating oil, known as BioHeat, to residential customers, and the list is growing. Most companies provide BioHeat blends that contain 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent of biodiesel (known as B5, B10 or B20, respectively) mixed with conventional heating oil, all of which can be used in existing oil-burning furnaces."



The National Outdoor Leadership School's Educational RV is cruising around the country, and it's powered by straight veggie oil:
"Powered by recycled vegetable oil (RVO), solar power, and sponsored by Silk™, the makers of organic soymilk, this educational program on wheels provides an active, environmentally conscious way to learn about the outdoors and celebrate leadership in your community."
They've got a blog, too:



If you're looking to convert your diesel-powered vehicle to straight veggie oil (SVO), check out the Cool Tools review of the Frybrid Kit:
"Frybrid was the first to introduce a really efficient heat exchanger and a microprocessor controller that will automatically switch to vegetable oil when the system is hot enough and which will not let you forget to switch back to diesel. The components of the Frybrid system were designed to handle the most challenging conditions, so that they could be installed in a Mercedes or a Mack truck."


Coconut Oil

WorldChanging reports on coconut oil-powered rental cars in Vanuatu:
"Unlike with many biofuels, coconut oil doens't need to be transesterized - mixed with sodium hydroxide and alcohol to change its chemical composition - to run in a diesel engine. Filtered and warmed to temperatures about 25C, coconut oil is a better than satisfactory substitute for "mineral diesel" - it burns more slowly, which produces more even pressure on engine pistons, reducing engine wear, and lubricates the engine more effectively."
[Via BoingBoing]


AltWheels Festival

The AltWheels Festival is next weekend, in Brookline, Mass.
"No matter what your interest or age, AltWheels has something for you.
Exhibits will include working electric, solar, flex-fuel, and hybrid vehicles, as well
as the latest in human-powered transportation. There will be a special section of
ArtCars — motorized flights of fancy designed to delight. Come build and race a
model solar car or watch a fuel conversion workshop and see a car drive in
on gasoline and drive out on an alternative fuel."

Gas prices

Gas prices


(from Kottke's Flickr photos)

I'm currently paying $3/gallon for biodiesel at the Pacifica co-op, here in the SF Bay Area.


Biodiesel pump at The Grange in Issaquah, WA

Biodiesel pump at The Grange in Issaquah, WA

Rob let me know that Propel just opened up another Biodiesel pump in a Seattle suburb. Nice work, folks!


Massive Biodiesel Plant coming in Iowa

According to Treehugger, a 37.5 million gallon/year Cargill biodiesel plant is in the works in Iowa.


Iowa Biodiesel Plant Coming

The High Plains Journal reports that Cargill is building a:
"37.5-million-gallons-per-year biodiesel plant and a 30-million-pounds-per-year glycerin refinery in Iowa Falls, adjacent to its existing soybean crush facility..."

"Initially, the plant will produce biodiesel and USP-grade glycerin exclusively from soybean oil, but Cargill officials expect to have the capability for using animal fat or waste grease for biodiesel production in the future. The biodiesel plant has been designed to meet the requirements for BQ-9000 certification, the leading, accepted industry standard."


A BiodieselBlog reader writes:
"If one believes in the future of biodiesel and wanted to invest in companies either growing the raw material(s) or engineering the technologies for its commercial use, where would be a place, if any, to find a list of them?"
Please post any feedback in the comments.

Feed ads

Hi folks,

I just added Google's AdSense for Feeds to the BiodieselBlog's feed. Hopefully the ads will continue to add value (as do the ads on the site) and be relevant to the content.



Seattle Update

Rob from Propel just wrote to let me know about Laurelhurst Oil's recent grand opening, up in Seattle. KOMO has the scoop:
Ribbon cutting"Chances are you've heard of soybean-based "Biodiesel" but the high price per gallon may have kept you away. But now the nearly emission-free fuel is finally competitively priced."

"About 2,000 people in the Seattle area fill their diesel engines with Biodiesel, but that number could easily double this summer. New filling stations, like one behind University Village in Seattle, are popping up all over..."

"Right now, you're paying about $2.79 for a gallon of diesel in the greator Seattle area. The price of Biodiesel at this station is $2.96 per gallon."
Great work, folks!



A BiodieselBlog reader writes:
"I'm working on a small plant to produce biodiesel in Southern California. Do you know where I can find the actual biodiesel regulations enforced by the dept. of weights and measurements? I'm having trouble finding the actual specs."
Anybody know where he can find info about this?

Biodiesel Benz

Paul Vachier wrote in a few days ago about two of his biofuel projects. First is a great writeup of his experiences with a Golf TDI & biodiesel (this is what I drive). Here's a snippet:
"In terms of driving and overall satisfaction, this is my favorite car to date. It handles great and has extremely comfortable seats and I absolutely love the gas mileage. It is German engineered through-and-through which means it is designed for the driving experience despite its frugal nature and can move along very quickly thanks to the turbo charger."
The second is an article on converting an old Mercedes Benz to run on Straight Veggie Oil:
"Lyle bought a two fuel tank conversion kit for $500 and found a local mechanic familiar with conversions who installed it for $1,000. The car's original tank was kept and holds regular diesel (or B20, B100) fuel for cold weather starting. A second tank was installed in the trunk for vegetable oil. Hoses are run from the car's radiator to the tank to heat the oil via a heat exchanger before it enters the final fuel filter and injectors inside the engine compartment."
Great stuff!


Green Car Congress is reporting that Malaysia is set to build its first Biodiesel refinery. It will all be exported though:
"Chin said the fuel could not be used in Malaysia as the existing infrastructure of the major oil companies in the country to blend the bio-diesel with petroleum diesel was insufficient."

"The companies would have to work together with MPOB and Golden Hope Plantations to develop the infrastructure, he said, adding that there weren't any legal provisions for the alternative fuel in the country at the moment."


Link Roundup

(Apologies for the lack of posting lately; things have been mighty busy at work...)

I've been getting caught up on my Deep Green Crystals reading this weekend; here's an excellent roundup of links courtesy of Martin:



A different download

A 10,000-gallon biodiesel tank going in the ground at Seattle's University District. Excellent!

[via Rob / Propel Fuels]


No TDI For You!

A friend writes:
"I just noticed that the VW web site states that Diesel (TDI) engines are NOT available in California, Maine, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts..."

This is how I understand it; please correct me if I'm wrong!

It has to do with those states having strict(er) laws about diesel fuel and emissions. Because diesel has traditionally been heavily-polluting, these states are throttling the supply of passenger diesel-powered cars. I think it also affects Mercedes-Benz, and whoever else sells passenger diesels.

Next year, all diesel fuel sold in California is required by law to be of the ultra low-sulfur variety, which is lower-polluting, and therefore VW will be allowed to sell TDIs again.

Or something like that.


New Mexico

Does anybody out there have info about biodiesel availability in New Mexico? I just heard from a friend in Santa Fe who's considering buying a VW TDI, but this map doesn't look too promising...


Thinking of Going Biodiesel

A BiodieselBlog reader writes,
Biodiesel is pretty widely available in my area. Currently the price difference with conventional fuel is trivial, but even if demand shoots up and goes to $3 per gallon I could live the difference between that and conventional fuel."

I am not a mechanic. And don't want a lot of fuss so:

1) Do I buy of the cars that is rated especially for biodiesel?

2) Do I buy any decent mainstream diesel (Volkswagon or Ford mostly it looks like) and just run it on biodiesel instead of conventional fuel.

3) If I go route 1 (buying a car with some sort of modifications for biodiesel) if I'm out in the desert and conventional diesel is the only fuel around can I put that in instead without damaging my car. In other words can I use biodiesel normally, and regular diesel once in a blue moon if I happen to be somewhere biodiesel is not available.
I'm biased, but I'd definitely encourage the reader to go biodiesel if it's widely available in his/her area — buy whatever VW TDI would work best lifestyle-wise, given how efficient they are. Biodiesel and regular diesel blend just fine.

If you have any other advice, feel free to post it in the comments.


Biodiesel Blog Aggregation

I just came across a nice aggregation of all the various biodiesel-related weblogs out there:


Eucalyptus oil?

A reader from Hawaii writes:
"After the demise of the commercial sugar industry here in Hawaii, we were challenged with creating a "New Agriculture for our island. As a part of that effort large plantings of eucalyptus now occupy some of the lands once used for sugar. Soon those trees will be harvested. So the question is ; Can the oils found in the fall-down/ by-product (branches and leaves) of these trees be used in the production of bio fuels?"
Anybody have any info about eucalyptus oil? Leave a comment.


National Biodiesel Conference updates

First, an article from Wired News: Backroom Tussling Over Biodiesel
"The farmers, soybean growers from Midwestern states, are enlisting the help of environmentalists and celebrities, to give them the hip, eco-friendly image they need to reach young adults and baby boomers. The relationship between soybean growers and environmentalists is proving a rocky one, however..."

"One worry backyarders and environmentalists have is that a biodiesel market dominated by soybean growers will promote the use of Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds, which have been genetically altered to resist the company's herbicide, Roundup."
There are some good quotes in there from SaraHope of the Berkeley Biofuel Oasis and Lyle from Piedmont Biofuels.

[via Ryan]

Next, an update from Martin Tobias, who runs the Living on Biodiesel blog:
"There are actual customers at the show. Farmers, entrepreneurs, distributors, retailers, large fuel consumers, and more. Actual customers of biodiesel. Companies that want to expand their investment in the business. This is a good sign. Many trade shows I have been to end up being alot of vendors talking to each other wondering where the real customers are. This is not the case here."


Reader Request: Rubber Fittings?

Here's another request for info, from a reader via email:
"I work for an oil company and we are thinking of producing biodiesel to blend into petrodiesel. I am worried by the issue of rubber damage but I cannot see anywhere whether this is only an issue with BD100 or if is happens at low blend concentrations. Would you or your readers know anything about this?"
From what I've heard/read, this is only a problem with natural-rubber fittings, and doesn't affect synthetic fittings. Definitely correct me if I'm wrong, though!

Please leave a comment if you've got any feedback — thanks!

Willie Nelson!

Wired News, Willie Nelson Bets on Biodiesel
"Nelson told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he began learning about the product a few years ago after his wife purchased a biodiesel-burning car in Hawaii, where the star has a home."

"'I got on the computer and punched in biodiesel and found out this could be the future,' said Nelson, who now uses the fuel for his cars and tour buses."

"Peter Bell, a Texas biodiesel supplier, struck up a friendship with Nelson after filling up one of the tour buses, and the business partnership came together just before Christmas..."

"'What Willie brings to this is the ability to communicate directly with a truck driver. That kind of community is hard for people to get to,' Bell said. 'When he starts talking, these folks really listen to him.... It's like having Tiger Woods talk about golf clubs.'"

[via Jason and Jason]



A Biodiesel Blog reader posted a comment, inquiring:
"I'm at the University of Florida and am trying to do prelim. research on biodiesel production. I got an email back from one of the dining hall directors telling me that they produce 750 lbs of 'waste grease' a month. How could I determine how much of a fuel yield would one get from that?"
If you know how to calculate this, please leave a comment - thanks!


Biofuel seminar in Ohio

(snagged from the LJ Biodiesel Community!)

Ohio Biofuel Seminar -- January 18, 2005

From Farm to Factory to Fuel Tank:
Stimulating Availability and Use of Biofuels for Motor Vehicles in Ohio

Policy Seminars for Ohio Legislators, Staff and Interested Parties

January 18, 2005
Vern Riffe Tower, 77 South High Street, 31st Floor, Columbus

**How many jobs and other economic benefits for Ohio could result from production of biofuels? Hear about research done at The Ohio State University.

**What is the practicality of using more and higher blends of biodiesel by fleets and individuals? Hear about great examples being set today by fleets in Ohio.

**Ohio uses a large amount of E10, 10% ethanol blended with gasoline, but what is the potential for vehicles that can use much higher blends such as E85? Learn about the increasing number of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs), capable of using E85, owned by governments, private fleets and individuals in Ohio?

**In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared several Ohio counties in non-attainment with two different federal air quality standards. Learn about the potential for biofuels to help improve air quality.

**In October 2004, President Bush signed the FSC/ETI Jobs Act, which included strong tax benefits for ethanol and biodiesel. Learn the facts about the landmark law and its potential impact on price and terminal availability of biodiesel and E85.

#61523; Other states have enacted policies to help increase availability of biodiesel and E85 to fleet and individual consumers. Learn about model policies passed in other states and legislation being developed by Ohio state legislators, and how new policies could help put biofuels in Ohio motorists' tanks.

Repeating Seminars beginning at 8:30 am and 1:00 pm
Light refreshments will be available


1. Welcome – TBA

2. Overview – Sam Spofforth, Executive Director, Central Ohio Clean Fuels Coalition

3. Economic and Job Creation Potential from Biofuels Production – Dr. Thomas Sporleder, Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Science (Invited)

4. Status of New Biodiesel and Ethanol Plants in Ohio; Wholesale and Retail Availability of Biodiesel and E85 – John Lumpe, Ohio Soybean Council and Dwayne Siekman, Ohio Corn Growers Association

5. Federal Tax Credits for Biodiesel and E85; Models of Effective State-Level Policy and Recommendations for Ohio – Scott Hughes, National Biodiesel Board

6. Draft State Legislation on Biofuels Use – Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus)

7. Conclusion

Please RSVP by Friday, January 14 by contacting Sam Spofforth, Executive Director, Central Ohio Clean Fuels Coalition, at (614) 292-5435 or Remember to indicate your choice of the morning or afternoon session.

Sponsored by Central Ohio Clean Fuels Coalition, Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Growers Association, and Others

(Snatched from the BiodieselNow Forums)

b100 Blog

Yesterday I came across an excellent new blog, b100 Fuel, Living on Biodiesel, written by Martin Tobias:
"A reader of my Deep Green Crystals has been tracking my Touareg adventures with Biodiesel. This reader also has a Touareg and has a friend with one. They were wanting a place to share experiences. So here it is. But I have made the idea a little larger (who woulda guessed). I was lying in bed this morning with this question running through my head: What would the world be like if all the current diesel cars, trucks and generators were switched over night to B100? How would things be different? How do we get there? Hopefully this blog will explore that idea over the next few years."

Biodiesel License Plate Frames

BiodieselNow has Powered by Biodiesel license plate frames available for $10:

Biodiesel license plate frame

"Our good friend PizzaMan (George) is producing a bunch of license plate frames to help you show off your support of biodiesel! George has made many plate frames in the past for, and his work is top-notch. He's making special offer to BioDieselNow supporters - buy one (or two!) for $10 ($1.50 off his regular price), and he'll donate $2 per plate frame to BioDieselNow!"


Renewable Energy Law Blog

I just heard from Geoff Hand about his group's new Renewable Energy Law Blog, where they'll be discussing "the evolving law, science, and policy of renewable energy development." This'll be a fantastic resource, and they've already got a post up about the recently-passed biodiesel tax incentive.

SVO conversion kits

Last week I got an email inquiring about conversion kits for running cars on straight veggie oil (SVO), rather than biodiesel. A Google search shows a bunch of sites:


Near the Pentagon

According to the LiveJournal Biodiesel Community, biodiesel is available at the Citgo near the Pentagon in Washington D.C.:
"Hi! I just found this community and I had to tell you that the Pentagon has biodiesel. They just got it this past month. It's the Pentagon Citgo where they have alternative fuels for their fleet. Anyone can purchase it though. It's B20."
If any of you live nearby, could you send a photo (if they'll let you, heh)? Thanks!

News from India

Two bits about potential Biodiesel use in India, first from
"India is actively involved in implementing a national program for the phasing in of BioDiesel-blended fuel oils, primarily with respect to government-run rail and other transportation systems. India currently imports more than 70% of its crude petroleum diesel needs, which are refined in-country. RCAI estimates the value of its portion of India's BioDiesel needs, based on the work with the Ministry of Railroads alone, at approximately US$4 million annually, based upon a B5 (5% BioDiesel) blend, which could grow to over $10 million as the country moves toward a B10 (10% BioDiesel) blend in the future."
Next, news from Sify that the Tatas are considering a biodiesel project:
"The Tatas are mulling over a biodiesel project and the Lucknow-based premier National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) is providing consultancy services to the group."

"Addressing a news conference here yesterday, NBRI director Dr P Pushpangadan said Tatas have evinced interest in the processing of biodiesel from Jatropha plant for commercial production and consumption..."

"He said Jatropha plant could be cultivated on waste lands and with minimum water requirement gave handsome returns to farmers."

(a Tata tourist bus on the Agra-Jaipur road, a photo of mine from India)


Biodiesel in Florida

Mike Weitzel of HUGR Systems recently emailed me regarding their operation in Apopka, Florida — sounds like things are going extremely well for them. First, two Congress-folk visited their facility for a tour:
According to J.P. Patten, owner of HUGR Systems, a lunch was held for Keller and Baker's visit, and when the food was done cooking, the oil it was cooked in was used later to fire up the company's lawn mowers ..."
Then last month they received a Clean Air Award from MetroPlan Orlando:
"'HUGR was selected for their use of biodiesel technology to decrease emissions, increase efficiency and help maintain clean air in Central Florida,' said Mayor Land."

"Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from waste vegetable oil (french fry grease) that is environmentally friendly and non-flammable. HUGR Systems hopes to one day build up to utilizing biodiesel technology in vehicles. For now, HUGR is using biodiesel technology in lawnmowers, pressure cleaning systems and carpet cleaning systems. They have also created the company vehicle to run on biodiesel and a sample generator that could run inside a home without causing carbon monoxide poisoning."