Biodiesel: A year-round success
By Doug Schroeder, Chairman, Illinois Soybean Association Board of Directors
Biodiesel is one of the Illinois soybean checkoff program’s greatest success stories. This renewable fuel, made from soybean oil, contributes to cleaner air and fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and puts more money in the pockets of growers like you and me.
The numbers are pretty astounding. Did you know that biodiesel increases the price of soybeans by $0.63 per bushel? One of the best ways to contribute to the value of soybeans is for growers to use biodiesel in our trucks, tractors and combines. When growers fill up our tanks with biodiesel on the farm, we’re not only using the soybeans we grow, we’re helping increase their market value.
The biodiesel industry also supports about 2,000 Illinois jobs, both directly and indirectly. Biodiesel backs a healthy Illinois economy, and that’s a well-deserved nod to the hard-working soybean growers in the Prairie State.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) contributes to a healthier environment and stronger economy by promoting use of higher biodiesel blends like B20. For example, ISA and American Lung Association partnered several years ago to form the B20 Club. The B20 Club recognizes Illinois-based fleets committed to running on biodiesel blends of 20 percent or greater. Members include municipal fleets, mass transit companies, utilities and trucking companies and use millions of gallons of B20 each year.
The impact of these fleets can be seen far and wide. In fact, the B20 Club’s annual reduction in CO2 emissions last year was equivalent to planting 230,000 trees. But, beyond reducing GHG emissions, biodiesel is making great strides year-round for both growers and truckers.
As we head into colder months, you may be thinking: “But I can’t use biodiesel in winter.” However, I can say from personal experience that biodiesel performs in any kind of weather, including sub-zero Illinois temperatures. The truth is that winter can be hard on all diesel engines, not just those running on biodiesel.
Whether we like it or not, the weather is quickly getting colder and now is the time to start preparing diesel-fueled vehicles for winter. Biodiesel is an all-weather fuel and with proper maintenance, you can expect a problem-free experience.
In fact, maintenance and basic housekeeping keep all diesel engines running smoothly, whether they are fueled with biodiesel or regular diesel fuel. Here are a few tips from ISA biodiesel experts to keep in mind when preparing for winter:
- Water is the common source of plugged fuel filters. Excess water in tanks can freeze when temperatures drop below 32 degrees, blocking the flow of fuel through the filter.
- Cold-flow properties can affect performance. The cloud point indicates the temperature at which wax crystals appear and the cold filter plugging point (CFPP) generally indicates the lowest temperature for vehicle operation.
- Using winter fuel additives can help prepare fuel for low temperatures. Fuel additives help lower CFPP and improve the flow of fuel during freezing temperatures.
So, if biodiesel performs year-round, produces less carbon emissions, puts more money in soybean growers’ pockets and ultimately supports a stronger Illinois economy, why don’t all diesel drivers switch to biodiesel? Unfortunately, even though biodiesel has been used successfully for many years, myths persist surrounding engine modification, performance standards and even backing from manufacturers.
But I’m happy to tell you that diesel engines require no modifications to run on biodiesel, the BQ-9000 testing program ensures biodiesel producers meet strict ASTM specifications for proper fuel performance, and biodiesel is approved by major vehicle and equipment manufacturers. If you’re not already using biodiesel, talk to your fuel supplier about how you can make the switch to this cleaner, more economical fuel choice.
Whether you’re a grower or a trucker, now’s the time to gain the economic, environmental and health benefits of biodiesel. For more information on using biodiesel, including tips on handling and storage, visit https://www.ilsoy.org/article/using-biodiesel.