By Tara Baukus Mello (October 10, 2005)
If you notice a smell of fried food as a public bus goes by, chances are you've caught a whiff of the latest trend in environmentally friendly fuels: biodiesel. These days, biodiesel fuel is becoming increasingly available to the public as consumers begin to look for alternatives to gasoline. Biodiesel fans include several environmentally conscious celebrities, such as country singer Willie Nelson and actress Darryl Hannah, who both run their vehicles on 100 percent biodiesel, known as B100. What's more common is a blend, such as B20, made up of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel.
There are numerous environmental benefits to using biodiesel, even in a blended form, over petroleum diesel fuel, although some of the environmental benefits are dependent on how the fuel is produced. It is both nontoxic and biodegradable. It is nearly free of sulfur and carcinogenic benzene--two of the components of petroleum diesel that federal and state officials have regulated because of environmental and health concerns. Using a biodiesel blend of B20 has shown to significantly improve some emissions when compared to using straight petroleum biodiesel, according to studies from both the EPA and the National Biodiesel Board.
Biodiesel fuel is made from farm-produced organic products and waste materials. It's commonly found around the United States as a blend with petroleum diesel.
Using biodiesel in your car
Most standard diesel engines can run on biodiesel fuel with little modification. In fact, biodiesel cleans old petroleum deposits out of the engine.
Biodiesel is becoming increasingly available around the States. Although it's more expensive than petroleum diesel, prices are likely to change.