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Biodiesel is a recycled, renewable resource that can be manufactured in the U.S. Although the chemical structure of biodiesel is a bit different than that of diesel refined from petroleum, its use is basically the same as petroleum diesel. Almost 12 million Class 3 to 8 trucks are registered in the U.S., according to R.L. Polk, of which approximately 80 percent are powered by diesel engines. The National Biodiesel Board estimates that the U.S. will produce 242 million barrels of biodiesel from crude oil between 2006 and 2015.

If all diesel fuel had a 20 percent blend of biodiesel, we would see a much more substantial reduction in the use of diesel fuel. For the most part, blends of up to 20 percent biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine. One concern is that biodiesel releases deposits in fuel tanks and fuel systems, which may require filter changes.

Vehicles that have the potential to be fueled by biodiesel include light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles manufactured after 1993, according to the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

Strengths and benefits of biodiesel include:

  • Relatively low impact to environment - Biodiesel contains virtually no sulfur or aromatics and, when used in a conventional diesel engine, results in reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Its production and use results in 78.5 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions as compared to petroleum diesel.
  • Potential to reduce dependence on foreign supply - According to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), for every billion dollars spent on foreign oil, the U.S. lost 10,000-25,000 jobs. Biodiesel can be manufactured domestically with vegetable oils using existing industrial production capacity and conventional equipment.
  • Potential impact on job growth - The NBB estimates that for every 100 million gallons of biodiesel produced from algae, 16,455 jobs will be created.
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