Biodiesel Fuel: A Viable Option?
As companies become more environmentally aware, the call for alternative fuel sources is on the rise. This has led to more and more businesses turning to biodiesel fuel for power sources like generators in place of using traditional fossil fuels. Biodiesel fuel is renewable and biodegradable, making it more environmentally friendly than non-renewable sources like natural gas and crude oil, which is used to make the diesel fuel that many industrial facilities still rely on.
What Are the Advantages of Biodiesel Fuel?
Here are some main advantages of using biodiesel fuel:
- Renewable:One of the biggest benefits of using biodiesel fuel is that it can be produced on demand, which won’t always be the case for fossil fuels. Natural gas and crude oil will eventually run out and have people looking for other alternatives. Biodiesel is manufactured from vegetable oil that originates from agricultural crops. It can also be made from animal fats as well as the recycled grease that is left over from the restaurant industry. The oil is converted to biodiesel fuel that is capable of being used for power generation.
- Lower emissions:Biodiesel fuel produces significantly less emissions than conventional diesel fuel does. By using it, you will show your employees and customers that your business cares about the impact that your facility makes on the environment. According to the S. Department of Energy, biodiesel fuel generates 78 percent less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that threatens the environment, than regular diesel.
- Better lubrication:Virtually Sulphur-free, this type of fuel is much more lubricating than regular diesel. Enhanced lubrication means that you will reduce wear and tear on your generator engines, which will help them to last longer, enhancing your investment. Additionally, since biodiesel typically doesn’t produce sulfur, a pungent gas, it actually improves air quality over other types of fuel sources.
- Cleaner refineries: Other fuel sources release dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere when they are refined in a factory.However, since it uses mostly animal fat and vegetable oil, producing biofuel releases less-toxic chemicals into the environment.
- Compatible with existing diesel engines: Another great benefit of biodiesel is that it works with traditional diesel engines. It needs little to no modifications to function in a generator. It can be used in its pure form, which is known as B100, or it can be mixed with conventional diesel fuel. There are several combinations available, including:
- B2 (containing 2% biodiesel)
- B5 (containing 5% biodiesel)
- B20 (containing 20% biodiesel)
- Domestically produced: Fossil fuels are nonrenewable, and as demand grows, so will our dependence on getting what we need from foreign suppliers. However, biodiesel is produced locally, so it doesn’t have the increased cost that’s associated with importing products from another country. This will be an important consideration when local resources become slim or run out altogether.
- Economy stimulation: Since biodiesel is manufactured locally, refineries have the potential to create hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs in rural areas. Demand for more biodiesel will also increase the call for better biofuel crops, which will stimulate the farming industry while also improving the overall quality of the fuel.
What Are the Disadvantages of Biodiesel Fuel?
There are some disadvantages you should know about biodiesel before making a decision. These include:
- Availability:Biodiesel fuel isn’t as readily available as regular diesel. Until it is more widely distributed, many companies won’t have access to its benefits.
- Filter clogging: Biodiesel fuel can be great for maintenance because it cleans dirt from the engine—however, this dirt accumulates in the filter and clogs it, requiring frequent changes.
- Limited cold weather usage: In cold weather conditions, biodiesel begins to solidify into a gel form. This is a major drawback during the winter months. However, this issue can be circumvented by combining it with diesel fuel that has been winterized.
- Increased emissions of nitrogen oxide: While biodiesel is generally a cleaner fuel than fossil fuels, it does generate about 10 percent more nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas that affects the ozone by contributing to smog and acid rain.
- Excessive water usage: Biofuel crops require a massive amount of water to grow properly, so local water resources could be impacted as the demand for it increases.
- Higher energy consumption: Because it has a lower energy output, biodiesel requires more energy to generate the same level of energy as conventional fuels.
- Inconsistent quality: How well biodiesel will perform for your generator varies. This is because it is made from such a variety of sources—so when it’s time to refill, you may not be getting the same exact quality as before.
- Increased food prices: As the demand for biofuel crops grows, it could raise the cost for those food crops. This could make it more difficult for poor families to afford staples like corn. Also, increased demand could potentially result in food shortages in some areas.
How Much Is Biodiesel Fuel?
Just like other fuel sources, the prices for biofuel can fluctuate on a daily basis. They depend on location and the time of year as well as what the political climate looks like. However, in general, biodiesel fuel prices have been falling but still tend to be slightly higher than regular diesel, depending on the combination. Pure biodiesel (B100) will cost more than combination forms like B20. However, the benefits of biofuel may outweigh the slight price increase for some consumers.
Is Biodiesel Right for You?
Biodiesel still has a ways to go to be the best choice for U.S. businesses. But with more research and development as demand for it increases, it could be possible to overcome the shortcomings of biodiesel to make it more effective and widely available for consumers. The future for biodiesel seems promising as fossil fuel supplies deplete and the demand for energy increases.
Contact Valley Power Systems to discuss your options with our knowledgeable staff. We take pride in offering a wide range of power solutions for businesses throughout California.