Major USA Biodiesel Feedstocks


The Contrast

What are the major USA biodiesel feedstocks? Table#1 provides the 2015 breakdown of biodiesel feedstocks in the United States. Year 2016 data will not be available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for another 2 months. In 2015, the United States produced a total of 1.268 billion gallons of biodiesel, down 0.24% from the previous year. Our total biodiesel production capacity in 2015 was 2.029 billion gallons, down 5.4% from the previous year. 2015 B100 biodiesel sales totaled 781 million gallons, down 1.4% from Year 2014.

At some point you will want to compare USA biodiesel feedstock consumption versus World Wide biodiesel feedstock consumption. Along with Table#1 I have included a pie chart for a graphic depiction of US biodiesel resources. You will notice right off 1 significant difference. Canola/Rapeseed Oil contributes to 84% of the world’s biodiesel feedstock whereas in the United States it is the least used biodiesel feedstock standing at only an 8% contribution. I hope one day this changes for Canola/Rapeseed crops provide a high oil yield, 127 gallons of oil per acre (1,190 litres/hectare) of planted crops. Canola is the 4th highest oil yielding crop in the world. Sadly, America relies on the 2 poorest oil yielding crops as biodiesel feedstocks. Soybean Oil contributes to 52% of USA biodiesel feedstocks while Soybeans only yield 48 gallons of oil per acre (446 liters/hectare). Worse, we rely on Corn feedstocks over Canola. In the United States Corn Oil contributes 11% to America’s biodiesel feedstock. Corn yields only an appalling 18 gallons of oil per acre planted (172 liters/hectare). In my opinion, Corn should not be used as a biodiesel feedstock.

 

 

US Biodiesel Feedstocks

 

The Upside

In comparison to the world, the United States triumphs in our use of recycled cooking oils and animal fats. At this time, we are the leaders. Annually over 3 billion gallons of used cooking oil are drained from restaurant deep fryers in the U.S. Used vegetable oil is a tremendous low-cost feedstock for biodiesel manufacturing. Much of the used vegetable oil ends up in landfills or sewers (causing problems for sewage treatment plants). Used vegetable oil will yield approximately 90% biodiesel by volume. In other words, the U.S. annually can potentially produce 2.7 billion gallons of biodiesel just from used cooking oil! In 2015, the U.S. consumed 1.254 billion pounds of recycled oil (approximately 162 million gallons) in the production of biodiesel fuel. As of October 2016, the U.S. had used 1.160 billion pounds of recycled oil in biodiesel production.

Animal fat is a by-product of the animal rendering process. Animal fat is the least expensive feedstock for biodiesel manufacturing. Poultry fat, beef tallow, fish oil, & other animal fats can be used to produce biodiesel fuel. According to the U.S.D.A., the U.S. on average annually produces 11 billion pounds of animal fats. This quantity would yield approximately 1.5 billion gallons of biodiesel annually. However, biodiesel fuels produced soley from animal fats possess high gel points and poorer cold weather properties. The best practice is to either blend the animal fats with vegetable oils prior to biodiesel production or to blend animal fat-derived biodiesel with vegetable oil-derived biodiesel. In 2015, 1.271 billion pounds of animal fat were used to produce biodiesel fuel. As of October 2016, 921 million pounds of animal fat were used in the manufacturing of biodiesel. I must note that Year 2016 animal fat data is incomplete at this time.

 

USA Biodiesel Production by State

I have compiled Table#2 below as a list of biodiesel producers and biodiesel production capacity by state. The table is sortable by data column. The leading Top 6 Biodiesel Producing states are Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, & Indiana. For reasons unknown, the U.S. Energy Information Administration actually indicates that there is no biodiesel production capacity in New York. I believe this is either an error or oversight. I do know that the New York group was comprised of Ultra Green Energy Services which is headquartered in Chicago. Perhaps the New York data is inadvertently compiled into the Illinois data. Any-who…. check out this data table. If I get the time, I will later provide a table with an itemized list of all the biodiesel producers in the U.S.

 

Wrap-Up

I do not want to come across as overcritical of the current USA biodiesel feedstocks. We are taking biodiesel production seriously here in America. Our country is focused on biodiesel fuel as a sustainable alternative renewable fuel. Our nation’s agricultural, economic, commercial, & political demands & needs influence the current biodiesel feedstocks in use. I hope in time we will implement higher oil yielding feedstocks such as Canola/Rapeseed & Algae. My goal is to help provide information to educate our citizens on the incredible potential of biodiesel fuel.

On one additional note, the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a fantastic updated Monthly Biodiesel Report. This report provides a wealth of information on USA Biodiesel Feedstocks and national biodiesel demographics. Click on the button to port over to their free report. Remember, this report is updated monthly. I will also provide a link to this great report on our Favorites page.

Download USEIA Monthly Biodiesel Report

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About Kevin

Kevin is an engineer, physicist, and author. As a result, his creations span the globe. He has a knack for developing simple smart solutions to difficult problems. He is the creator of the MakeTrix. The MakeTrix fulfills Kevin’s lifelong dream. His dream is to provide free technical solutions to the world.

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