The Blog

Biodiesel Comes of Age

A lot can change in just a few years.

A Consumer Reports article from 2009 describes the trials and tribulations experienced when that organization tried to understand the differences between cooking oil, biodiesel, and diesel used to fuel a converted Volkswagen TDI.  It is now seen as somewhat quaint that CR even considered the possibility that people would use cooking oil widely in diesel engines.

The magazine derisively ended by saying, “we conclude that moonshine biodiesel is best left to a dedicated hobbyist with experience and a focus on safety.”  Asserting that the only biodiesel available is ‘moonshine biodiesel’ is as ridiculous as saying that the only wine available is from grapes pressed by the calloused feet of unwashed peasants.  Like many of the most successful products of the industrial age, biodiesel production probably started by innovative people working from their garages.  However, the image of a few steaming tanks and a crazy-haired tinkerer is a thing of the past.  All biodiesel sold commercially is made in modern production facilities with the best quality control equipment available.  And although a new biodiesel production facility may look like a complicated industrial process, the chemistry is very straightforward.  Used vegetable oil is the major ingredient and the byproducts can be composted or used for animal feed or as feedstock for biodigesters.

A part that Consumer Reports did have correct is that biodiesel producers must be experienced, dedicated and safety-focused. Today’s biodiesel producers also are highly educated, well-informed, innovative, and quality-driven.  Biodiesel is a high-quality product that is ready to be an important part of America’s energy picture.

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