A biodiesel promotion took place May 15 at the Kickapoo FS Fuel 24 station. The station is the first fuel station in central Illinois to offer biodiesel.
What is biodiesel? It’s a clean-burning, biodegradable diesel fuel made from soybean oil. It can be burned in pure form (B100) or blended with petroleum diesel at any level. One 60-pound bushel of soybeans will produce approximately 1.4 gallons of biodiesel.
Biodiesel is already a proven winner. It’s been burned over more than 40 million road miles and now powers more than 100 major fleets.
This new fuel is another way renewable fuel can help clean up our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Biodiesel is sulfur-free, produces no explosive fuel vapors, and dramatically reduces smoke pollution. And it offers all these environmental benefits without sacrificing fuel efficiency. It can power any diesel engine with few or no engine modifications, and there’s no significant difference in horsepower, flashpoint, or miles per gallon. Soy biodiesel also adds lubricity benefits and may hold the key to driving this alternative fuel into the on-road segment of the diesel fuel market by 2006, when strict new federal standards for sulfur levels go into effect.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require 80 percent of all on-road diesel fuel sold in 2006 to contain a maximum of 15 parts per million of sulfur. This is a 97 percent decrease from the 500 parts per million allowed today.
The EPA requirement presents a huge opportunity for soy biodiesel because ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel needs some type of additive. The process that removes sulfur from diesel fuel also removes lubricating properties from the fuel.
Soy biodiesel is a perfect match for ultra-low sulfur diesel because it improves lubricity in No. 2 diesel fuel by 66 percent at just a 2 percent blend.
The potential market for soybeans is tremendous. If a 2 percent blend (one gallon of petroleum-based diesel fuel contains 2 percent of soy biodiesel) was used in all on-road diesel fuel in the United States, 473 million bushels of soybeans would be needed, which is the average annual soybean harvest in Illinois.
Government-mandated tests have also proven the soybean oil-based fuel is clean burning. Overall, biodiesel fumes contain 80 percent fewer cancer-causing compounds compared to traditional diesel.
Biodiesel is also receiving a boost on the legislative front. In April, the U.S. Senate approved the Senate Energy Bill, S. 517. The bill includes multiple provisions to help level the playing field for biodiesel in the highly competitive energy marketplace, including provisions to increase use of biodiesel in federal, state, and public utility vehicle fleets.
The future is looking bright for U.S. farm-based fuels such as ethanol (made from corn) and now biodiesel. We need to keep the momentum moving forward on these environmentally friendly, clean burning, renewable fuels. IBI