Q. Will Biodiesel harm my engine?
A. Biodiesel may be used in a conventional petro diesel engine without any modification whatsoever. Multiple agencies have tested this combination over millions of miles and in every circumstance. Bus fleets and commercial haulage companies have been using biodiesel in their operations for many years and reporting great success.
Q. Is Biodiesel experimental?
A. No, it has been in widespread use since the 1980s and has become more accepted in the United States over the last 10 years. Biodiesel actually dates back to the 1930s when it was originally mooted, but the process of converting vegetable oils into this fuel was perfected in the 80s.
Q. Is this alternative fuel accepted by the government?
A. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel fully certified under the stringent provisions of the Clean Air Act, as modified in 1990. The EPA recognises and authenticates the use of certified biodiesel fuel.
Q. Where can I get biodiesel?
A. There are now 14 major production facilities in the US and a number of distribution channels. In addition, many hundreds of smaller operations exist in localities around the nation. As the number of diesel engine cars increases, additional manufacture plants and distribution points will emerge.
Q. Can I just use conventional vegetable oil instead?
A. No, the vegetable oil must be converted into biodiesel fuel through a process known as transesterification. Alcohol is used with a catalyst to extract the liquid used as biodiesel.
Q. What about the cold weather?
A. Biodiesel does have a tendency to gel in very cold conditions, just as conventional petro diesel. You should take the same precautions as you would when using regular diesel in such conditions.
Q. Is biodiesel good for the environment?
A. Biodiesel is carbon neutral, which means it is not contributory to the carbon emissions problem currently plaguing our planet. As biodiesel is fundamentally extracted from vegetable crops which were previously carbon “sinks,” the fuel is far better for the environment than conventional petroleum, which is extremely high in toxic greenhouse gas emissions.
Q. Will I have to worry about clogged filters?
A. As biodiesel acts as a solvent and will dissolve the fossil deposits which have accumulated over time in your tank and within fuel lines. These deposits get trapped in the filters and it is advisable to clean or change your filters for a short while as the old gunk gets cleared away when you first convert from conventional diesel to biodiesel making way for a cleaner running, longer lasting engine.
Q. Can I make biodiesel at home?
A. Many people are successfully making homemade biodiesel. Making biodiesel is not very difficult in and of itself, so long as you take the correct safety precautions and make sure that you follow the necessary instructions (read Merv’s books). This can be a great way of making a difference, environmentally!
Q. As interest in biodiesel increases, will this cause over-harvesting?
A. Biodiesel growth must also be sustainable and must be managed so that harvesting does not cause an imbalance in the availability of agricultural crops, especially as they may represent absorbers of carbon already in our atmosphere. This is a challenge for the industry going forward.