Biofuels & Biodiesel

Biofuels are fuels made from plant matter. Types of biofuels include bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas. In the U.S. most gasoline is currently being sold with 10% bioethanol due to Renewable Fuel Standards as well as E85 which is 85% bioethanol and 15% gasoline. ISTC's studies have mainly focused on biodiesel production as a way to either reduce waste or mitigate food/fuel crop competition.

Biodiesel is used in diesel engines and burns cleaner (i.e., produces fewer emissions) than traditional petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel is biodegradable, making it a remarkable alternative fuel option in terms of both environmental protection and U.S. energy independence.

How is Biodiesel Made?

Biodiesel is made from renewable organic resources, such as vegetable oils, animal fats, or algal oils, all of which are domestically available. Biodiesel is made by the transesterification process - a chemical separation of glycerin from fatty acids, which then bind to alcohol molecules.

Biodiesel vs. Biodiesel Blends

What is commonly referred to or sold as "biodiesel" is often a blend of pure biodiesel and petroleum diesel (for example, B20 is 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel). However, an American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard does exist for biodiesel (ASTM D6751) and, based upon that standard, only pure (100%) biodiesel should be referred to as such. Any blend of biodiesel and petroleum diesel is properly referred to as "biodiesel blend." For more information on the technical definition of biodiesel and the specification for pure biodiesel, see the National Biodiesel Board web site.

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Flow diagram of the biodiesel making process.