Busting Biodiesel Myths

MYTH:  Biodiesel is unusable in farm equipment

  • FACT: All Case IH and John Deere equipment can use B5 – B20 Blends.  Most equipment can use up to B100.

MYTH: Biodiesel production negatively impacts the food supply and causes rising prices.

  • FACT: Biodiesel supports food production by creating additional markets for excess or waste fats and oils so it has no impact on the food supply. It is a food-then-fuel approach.

MYTH: Biodiesel use is limited to summer months only.

  • FACT: Biodiesel is a year-round fuel. Fleets have driven millions of miles in cold weather on biodiesel blends up to B20. All diesel fuel, whether it contains biodiesel or not, will gel up in the winter if not properly handled. It is important to know the fuel’s cloud point (temperature the fuel starts to thicken), but proper storage, handling and additive use help fleets run confidently on biodiesel blends in the winter.

MYTH: Even low biodiesel blends, like 5 percent, lead to winter operability problems.

  • FACT: Biodiesel blends of B5 and lower are so physically similar to diesel fuel without biodiesel that they are scientifically classified as the same and are not even required to be labeled as containing biodiesel. Whichever methods you use to winterize No. 2 diesel fuel, use the same strategy with biodiesel blends of B5 or lower. Minnesota’s No. 2 diesel fuel has contained 5 percent biodiesel in the winter since 2008.

MYTH: Biodiesel causes filter plugging in cold temperatures.

  • FACT: All diesel fuel requires special handling in cold weather. There are many factors that will cause filter plugging in the winter. When air temperature gets below 32°F, water freezes. If you have water in your fuel system you can seeing icing problems below 32°F.

Tip: Avoid water absorbing filters. They collect water and will freeze when temperatures are below the freezing point of water.

In order for diesel to operate below freezing temperatures, diesel users must blend with No. 1 diesel and/or use diesel fuel additives.

Tip: Fuel additives must be added when the fuel temperature is at least 10 degrees above its cloud point to work

The colder the temperatures, the thicker diesel fuel gets. It doesn’t take much to restrict the flow through the fuel filter and any type of contamination will be more pronounced in winter – water, sediment and oxidation can lead to filter plugging.

Tip: Install a new fuel filter going into winter.

MYTH: Biodiesel performs poorly in diesel engines.

  • FACT: Biodiesel boosts the performance and longevity of your diesel engine. Biodiesel has superior lubricity and higher cetane than petroleum diesel. Fleets are also reporting fewer issues with diesel particulate filters on Tier 4 engines thanks to biodiesel’s cleaner burn. Blends up to B20 provide similar horsepower, torque and fuel mileage in diesel engines.  Blends up to B20 can be used in existing diesel engines and fuel-injection equipment with little effect on operating performance.

MYTH: Biodiesel fuel quality is inconsistent.

  • FACT: Biodiesel meets stringent ASTM fuel specifications. The industry’s BQ-9000 accreditation program offers additional quality assurance.

MYTH: Using biodiesel requires modifications to engines and fleet fueling infrastructure.

  • FACT: Biodiesel blends up to B20 require no modifications to fueling infrastructure or engines.

MYTH: Biodiesel will void OEM warranties.

  • FACT: 100% of OEMs support using B5 biodiesel, and nearly 90% of medium- and heavy-duty truck OEMs support B20 blends.

MYTH: Biodiesel causes bacterial growth.

  • FACT: Biodiesel does not cause bacterial growth. Since the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in 2006, microbial contamination has become a more common problem in diesel fuel. Before ULSD, higher sulfur levels acted as a natural antimicrobial. Bacteria and fungus grow in the water/fuel interface and can be present in both supply tanks and vehicle tanks, supply lines and fuel system components. This issue can be avoided by checking for water and removing it when it is found.

MYTH: Biodiesel produced from animal fats is inferior to vegetable oil-based biodiesel.

  • FACT: America’s biodiesel producers can make high-quality biodiesel out of a variety of feedstocks. A feedstock-flexible approach allows for more predictable pricing and availability, lets the producer capture the best qualities of different feedstocks and can help the end product achieve a lower carbon intensity score. Even better is distilled biodiesel, which is more pure, has the potential for lower carbon intensity because of feedstock flexibility and performs better in the cold weather than biodiesel purified under the traditional method.

Learn More About Biodiesel Here