What is Biodiesel’s greatest advantage? In my opinion, biodiesel fuel is the only alternative renewable fuel that can be manufactured on any scale! If you are single consumer, you can “home brew” your own biodiesel. A group of individuals can form a co-operative and manufacture larger volumes of biodiesel for the co-op members. On the grand scale, a biodiesel refinery can manufacture biodiesel for the nation. Biodiesel enables scalable fuel production with the freedom to implement different techniques based upon consumption levels. Biodiesel production can even be implemented in impoverished remote villages to fulfill energy needs.
The video below is provided free via MotorWeek’s YouTube Channel circa March 23, 2009. Although this video is from 2009, it provides a great inside look into the operations of a biodiesel micro-refinery (sometimes referred to as home brewing) and a biodiesel CO-OP. Do not be scared off by the 2009 biodiesel price ($3.95/gallon) shown in the CO-OP segment. The CO-OP, Green Guild Biodiesel CO-OP, was buying the biodiesel from a distributor. I must also note that the narrator leaves the impression that you can only use biodiesel blends of B20 or less. This fact is only true with some newer U.S. diesel vehicles that have been intentionally built with non-compatible fuel system components (however retrofit/conversion modifications can be made in some of these vehicles). Prior to 2006, nearly all U.S. diesel vehicles were compatible with B100. In addition, the National Biodiesel Board spokesperson states that small scale biodiesel production is very dangerous and produces poor quality. Although I appreciate and value her comments, one must also keep in mind the following: adding gasoline into your lawnmower can also be dangerous; in fact, mowing your lawn can be dangerous. One can manufacture biodiesel in a safe manner while producing a quality fuel. Like anything else, one must follow the prescribed processes and safety protocols. That said, you do not want to get into biodiesel manufacturing if you are a person who likes to skip steps and/or prefers to ignore instructions.
In later posts, we will examine the compatibility of biodiesel blends with various U.S. vehicles and engines. Please remember that Rudolf Diesel designed the diesel engine to work well with biodiesel & vegetable oil over 100 years ago. Progresses in technology do not degrade over time unless they are artificially forced too. For more information on this matter, please read my biographical post on Rudolf Diesel.