National Biodiesel Day is March 18 – the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel's birthday. Diesel, born in 1858, developed the first diesel engine, which ran on peanut oil, a biofuel. He envisioned a time when vegetable oils would one day be as important as petroleum among transportation fuels.
Now, farmers are using biodiesel in their equipment and also helping to grow their bottom lines.
According to research conducted by Informa Economics and cited by the Iowa Soybean Association, biodiesel adds 74 cents to the per-bushel price of soybeans. Soybean meal feed costs also are lowered by at least $25 per ton due to the increased demand for soybean oil. The biodiesel industry also creates demand for animal fats, ISA said.
In an Iowa survey of 360 of the state's soybean farmers, 41% of those surveyed said they use biodiesel in farming operations. "Not readily available" was the primary reason cited for not using the fuel, followed by concerns about its performance in cold weather (29%).
Biodiesel experts say blends of up to 20% can be successfully used in cold temperatures, as long as the biodiesel and diesel meet high quality standards. In winter, blends should be treated and handled for cold weather, using similar methods to treating the No. 2 grade of diesel fuel.
Iowa Biodiesel Board officials say the fuel can be used in any diesel engine in blends of up to 20%. All of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers producing engines and equipment for the U.S. agricultural market support B20 or higher in their warranty position statements.
Biodiesel blends such as B5 (5% biodiesel) can restore needed lubricity to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, helping to extend engine life, ISA noted.
The National Biodiesel Board touted the fuel's impact on the environment. Last year, nearly 1.8 billion gallons of cleaner burning biodiesel was in the fuel mix, replacing petroleum diesel.
"Biodiesel works behinds the scenes to deliver a better alternative. It is here now, working today across the country to improve our environment, support our economy and protect energy security," said Steven J. Levy, NBB chairman. "It is impressive what we have achieved in 10 years and clear that responsible policy and industry innovation is working to expand access to America's Advanced Biofuel while benefitting consumers."
News source: ISA/NBB Graphic: NBB