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Specific gravity: 0.87 to 0.891
Kinematic viscosity@ 40°C: 3.7 to 5.81
Higher heating value(btu/lb): 16,928 to 17,9961
Sulfur, wt%: 0.0 to 0.00241
Cloud point °C : -11 to 161
Pour point °C: -15 to 131
Iodine number :

60 to 1351

Cetane Number: 46 to 701
Lower heating value (btu/lb): 15,700 to 16,7351
Tropical feedstocks: coconut oil, oil palm, castor beans, jatropha, pongamia pinnata
Temperate feedstocks: rapeseed, soy beans, sunflower seed
Other feedstocks: algae, waste vegetable oil, Halophytes (Saltwater plants)

Biodiesel (also spelled bio-diesel) is a diesel fuel produced from plant oils or animal fats. It is commonly sold blended with diesel derived from petroleum. Common blends include "B2" (2% biodiesel), "B5" (5% biodiesel), "B10" (10% biodiesel) and "B100" (100% biodiesel).

Biodiesel is a biofuel like ethanol, with which it is often confused. However, ethanol is made from sugar or starch, and is used in vehicles that run on gasoline. Biodiesel is made from oils and fats, and is used in vehicles that run on diesel fuel.

Biodiesel is also not the same as straight vegetable oil (also known as "SVO"). A normal diesel engine will eventually be damaged through the use of straight vegetable oil or straight animal fat fuel.


Biodiesel production

Biodiesel is made by chemically combining a vegetable oil or animal fat with an alcohol (such as methanol or ethanol) and a catalyst (usually sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) via a process known as transesterification. This produces an alkyl ester of fatty acid, containing an alcohol group attached to a single hydrocarbon chain comparable in length to that of diesel (C10H22 to C15H32)1.


  • Glycerin (C3H8O3) (also called glycerol) is the primary co-product of biodiesel production.1
    • Glycerin can be used as soap, as well as in the cosmetic industry and its sale can offset the cost of biodiesel production.1
  • "The 'meal' left in the seed after oil has been removed is currently sold as an animal feed."1


  • Due to the wide variety of oils and fats that can be used to produce biodiesel, there is a greater range in the characteristics of biodiesel fuels than for ethanol fuel."1
  • Some oils are shorter or more saturated - characteristics that affect the viscosity and combustibility of the biodiesel.1
  • Biodiesel contains 88-95% as much energy as diesel fuel.1
  • However, biodiesel can also improve diesel lubricity and raise the cetane value, meaning that in many cases diesel has a similar fuel efficiency.1
  • "The alcohol component of biodiesel contains oxygen, which helps to complete the combustion of the fuel, reducing air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons."1
  • Biodiesel contains practically no sulfur, so it can help reduce emissions of sulfur oxides."1


Biodiesel can be produced from any vegetable oil or animal fat, including waste vegetable oil produced by restaurants. There are also several experimental feedstocks including algae, which can be grown off of various types of waste.

  • In Europe, rapeseed oil is the major feedstock used to make biodiesel, with some sunflower oil also used.1
  • "In the United States, biodiesel has generally been made from soybean oil as more of this is produced domestically than all other sources of fats and oils combined."1
  • In tropical and sub-tropical countries, there are a wider variety of feedstocks being considered including both edible and non-edible oils.

Making biodiesel

This YouTube video, "The Process of Making Biodiesel," provides one introduction to the topic:

Safe Chemical Handling in Biodiesel Production

Here is a YouTube video on biodiesel safety for small biodiesel producers.

Safety is extremely important, because while biodiesel itself is non-flammable and biodegradable, the chemicals used to make it can be very dangerous.

Methanol is colorless and tasteless, and can cause blindness or death if it enters the body through the nose, mouth, or skin. It is a cumulative poison: repeated, brief exposures can cause a toxic reaction. Methanol is also very flammable, and burns with an almost invisible flame, making the fire difficult to see. Methanol vapors are heavy, and can travel along the ground to a source of ignition.

Sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are strong bases which can burn unprotected skin and kill nerve cells before pain can be felt. When sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide is mixed with alcohol and stirred, a fine mist can be produced which can cause irritation to the respiratory tract.


  • "Biodiesel blends are sensitive to cold weather and may require special anti-freezing precautions, similar to those taken with standard number-2 diesel."1
  • "Long-term storage of biodiesel can be a concern because it may oxidize, although additives can ensure stability."1
  • "Biodiesel acts like a detergent additive, loosening and dissolving sediments in storage tanks and also causing rubber and other components to fail; these concerns are typically minimal at low-level blends of biodiesel, and at higher blend levels problems can be avoided with some attention to the materials used in engine fuel injectors and the overall fuel handling system."1

Biodiesel blend



See books, reports, scientific papers, position papers and websites for additional useful resources.


Photos from Flickr tagged "biodiesel".


  • ‘This must be the most researched subject in the EU’s history!’, 19 March 2012 by Nusa Urbancic for European Federation for Transport and Environment: "Two new reports are expected to put more pressure on the Commission over its biofuels policy. Both add to the growing bank of evidence that under current policies, changes in land use caused by growing biofuels crops will wipe out the climate benefits of using certain biofuels, especially in the case of biodiesel."
    • "One report on the cost-effectiveness of policies to decarbonise transport, due to be published by a group of consultancies later this month, says most models show that indirect land-use change (Iluc) will mean ‘a net increase of greenhouse gases’ for biodiesel. The other report, also still to be published, says that if biofuels’ lifecycle emissions, rather than just direct emissions, from Iluc are taken into account, the EU would achieve little more than half its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050." [1]
  • EU report questions conventional biofuels' sustainability, 11 April 2012 by Euractiv: "Conventional biofuels like biodiesel increase carbon dioxide emissions and are too expensive to consider as a long-term alternative fuel, a draft EU report says."
    • "The study 'EU Transport GHG [greenhouse gases]: Routes to 2050' estimates that before indirect effects are counted, the abatement cost of reducing Europe’s emissions with biofuels is between €100-€300 per tonne of carbon."
    • "At current market prices, this would make their CO2 reduction potential up to 49 times more expensive than buying carbon credits on the open market at €6.14 a tonne."
    • "But the EU’s authors conclude that it 'it is not possible (and useful) to determine cost effectiveness figures for [conventional] biofuels' because their indirect effect - measured in cleared forests and grasslands ('ILUC') - make it a CO2-emitting technology."
    • "The latest report will feed a growing unease about the reasons for the EU's original biofuels policy - justified in environmental terms - and the way it has developed since...."
    • "Brussels is due to publish a proposal measuring the indirect emissions caused by biofuels later this year, distinguishing between low-emitting biofuels such as ethanol and high-emitting ones like biodiesel."
    • "But the EU’s decision-making process has been paralysed by the ongoing dispute between its energy directorate – which does not want ILUC factors considered – and its climate directorate, which does...."
    • "For now, the proposal remains stuck in the corridors of an EU that appears equally frightened of the political consequences of admitting a policy mistake and the environmental consequences of denying it."[2]
  • ANALYSIS-Biodiesel doubts threaten EU green transport targets, 5 March 2012 by Charlie Dunmore and Ivana Sekularac, in Sharenet: "Growing consensus that EU may miss 2020 biofuel targets... Demand for biodiesel threatened by land use change studies... Switch to bioethanol seen as unlikely to make up shortfall."
    • "The European Union will almost certainly miss its 2020 targets for cutting transport fuel emissions if policymakers act on scientific warnings about the climate impact of biofuels."
    • "Several EU studies have questioned the climate benefits of biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans, and some have warned that it releases as many climate-warming emissions as conventional diesel."
    • "With two-thirds of EU biofuel use in 2020 projected to come from biodiesel, there is a growing consensus that any move to exclude some biodiesel feedstocks, such as the U.S. has proposed in the case of palm oil, would put the goals out of reach. Even if Europe tried to boost its use of bioethanol and advanced biofuels from non-crop sources to make up the shortfall, technical barriers and the EU's rising thirst for diesel would still leave it short of the mark." [3]
  • Biodiesel doubts threaten EU green transport targets, 5 March 2012 by Reuters: "The European Union will almost certainly miss its 2020 targets for cutting transport fuel emissions if policymakers act on scientific warnings about the climate impact of biofuels."
    • "Several EU studies have questioned the climate benefits of biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans, and some have warned that it releases as many climate-warming emissions as conventional diesel...."
    • "If the EU penalises crop-specific biofuels for their estimated ILUC emissions, any incentive for governments and oil firms to promote biodiesel from rapeseed, palm oil and soybeans would disappear...."
    • "The Commission has already drafted two compromise proposals on ILUC without reaching an agreement on either, reflecting deep internal divisions on the issue."
    • "The deal now under discussion would penalise biofuels for their crop-specific ILUC emissions in the fuel quality law but not the renewable energy directive, removing the incentive for oil companies to buy biodiesel without excluding it entirely...."[4]
  • Airbus urges EU to scrap biodiesel incentives for road transport, 16 February 2012 by EurActive: "The EU should bin incentives for road-transport biodiesel or provide equal ones for the production of biokerosene used in airplanes, a senior Airbus executive has told EurActiv."
    • "'We are asking for a level playing field or the scrapping of incentives that cover the biodiesel industry,'said Paul Nash, the Airbus head of environment and new energies."
    • "Biodiesel, which is primarily used in road transport, may eventually be deemed one of the ‘worst performing biofuels’ with leaked EU data putting its emissions on a par with those from tar sands, when ILUC effects are counted."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency also ruled palm oil-based biodiesel inadmissible for its Renewable Fuel Standard Program, because it did not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction threshold needed to qualify. Such valuations have in turn fuelled complaints about the incentives that road-based biodiesels proportionately receive in Europe, as a result of the EU’s target to power 10% of its transport system with renewable energies by 2020."
    • “'All of the incentives today in Europe are focused on the production of biodiesel and there are no incentives in terms of aviation,' Nash told EurActiv, referring to the increasing competition for biofuels between the two transport sectors."
    • "Industry insiders argue airlines should be given priority access to sustainable biofuels as aviation will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades. Road transport, by contrast, has already started its transition to electricity, something that airlines simply cannot do." [5]
  • Biodiesel industry tries to limit damage from fake credits scandal, 6 February 2012 by Platts: "US biodiesel producers fear the recent scandal uncovering phony renewable fuel credits could erode support for the federal energy policy at a crucial time in its implementation."
    • "National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe on Monday urged opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard to avoid the temptation to use the fake credits as a weapon to bludgeon the mandate, which requires an increasing share of biofuels get blended into the US transportation fuel supply."
    • "Federal investigators and the Environmental Protection Agency's compliance division have flagged two sellers of renewable identification numbers (RINs), codes that should correspond with actual biofuel production to satisfy renewable energy mandates. In November, EPA declared invalid 32.3 million biodiesel credits sold by Clean Green Fuels of Maryland. Last week, the agency tossed out 48.1 million biodiesel credits sold by Absolute Fuels of Texas."[6]
  • EU biofuel targets will cost €126 billion without reducing emissions, 2 February 2012 by Friends of the Earth Europe: "Motorists across Europe are set to pay an additional €18 billion a year for petrol and diesel as a result of EU biofuel targets that have been shown not to reduce emissions, says new research published today."
    • "New figures, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and ActionAid, show that the planned increase in biofuels use could cost European consumers an extra €94 to €126 billion between now and 2020. This despite evidence that biofuels will actually make climate change worse and increase global hunger...."
    • "Biofuels have been promoted as a ‘green’ alternative to climate-damaging fossil fuels, but studies for the European Commission confirm that that the EU’s projected use of biofuels could actually increase emissions – particularly where countries rely on biodiesel from palm oil, soy and rapeseed...."[7]
    • Download the report, EU wide extrapolation of UK cost of biofuels calculations (PDF file).
  • EPA Rejects Palm-Oil Based Biodiesel for Renewable Fuels Program, 27 January 2012 by Business Week: "The Environmental Protection Agency said that biodiesel made from palm oil doesn’t meet the requirements to be added to its renewable fuels program because its greenhouse-gas emissions are too high."
    • "In a regulatory filing today, the EPA said that palm-oil biodiesel, which is primarily produced in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, provides reductions of as much as 17 percent in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel, falling short of a 20 percent reduction necessary to qualify under the law."
    • "By failing to meet that threshold, oil companies can’t use palm fuels to meet national renewable fuel standards. Other fuels they can use are made from soy beans, animal fat, recycled cooking grease or similar materials...."
    • "Environmental groups, which are locked in a fight with the EPA over its approval of corn-based ethanol under the same program, praised the decision as an important marker by the agency. Palm-oil production has led to the deforestation of 6.5 million hectares (16.1 million acres) in Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Friends of the Earth."[8]


  • EPA Issues Notice of Data Availability Concerning Renewable Fuels Produced from Palm Oil Under the RFS Program, December 2011 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: "he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) to release its lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of palm oil used as a feedstock to produce biodiesel and renewable diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The release of the NODA provides the public an opportunity to comment on EPA’s analysis."
    • "EPA’s analysis shows that biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil do not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle GHG reduction threshold needed to qualify as renewable fuel under the RFS program...."
    • "EPA’s analysis highlights a number of key factors which contribute to the lifecycle emissions estimate for biofuels based on palm oil. For example, palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential. Another key factor is the expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere."
  • ‘Carbon debt’ created by some biofuels must be considered in sustainability debate, new study shows, 30 November 2011 by CIFOR: "Despite being heralded as a green alternative to fossil fuels, a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found that carbon emissions generated from land conversion for biodiesel production may take decades to hundreds of years to reverse in some cases, raising serious questions about biodiesel sustainability."
    • "'It really matters how you produce biofuels and what land you grow it on as to whether you are going to get climate change benefits,' said Louis Verchot, CIFOR scientist and co-author of Implications of Biodiesel-Induced Land-Use Changes for CO2 Emissions: Case Studies in Tropical America, Africa, and Southeast Asia published in a special feature of Ecology and Society."
    • "Fluctuating oil prices and growing concerns about climate change have led to a renewed commitment to renewable energy, with demand for biofuels such as those produced from palm oil, jatropha and soy increasing in recent years."
    • "The strength of this work is in the comparisons between different feed stocks and different settings. 'The take-home message,' says Verchot, 'is not that biofuels are bad for the atmosphere. Rather, the results point to important considerations that must be taken into account to make biofuels sustainable.'"[9]
  • EBB slams EU thinking on biofuel land use impacts, 5 August 2011 by Argus Media: "Europe's biodiesel producers have commissioned an independent review of a policy document on biodiesel's indirect effects on land use change, which the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) maintains has skewed the European Commission's thinking on the subject to the detriment of the European biodiesel industry."
    • The commission has yet to define its methodology for gauging the possibility that diverting additional land to agriculture to feed biofuels demand could be increasing carbon emissions, an issue commonly referred to by the acronym ILUC. But several reports commissioned by the EU, which were subsequently leaked, have suggested incorporating ILUC into carbon calculation methodologies could have a negative impact on biodiesel made from virgin vegetable oils."
    • "In particular, EBB criticises [an] IFPRI report for underestimating the positive impact of increased oilseeds production in increasing animal feed production, containing flawed calculations on the amount of substitution between vegetable oils — which occurs in the EU market — and failing to include improvements in agricultural productivity among its calculations."
    • "EBB has commissioned Dr Don O'Connor of (S&T)² Consultants and Professor Gernot Klepper of the Kiel Institute for World Economy, to perform a critical review of the IFPRI study. The EBB expects to present its findings in September, when the college of commissioners will consider the findings of the commission's ILUC impact assessment. "[10]
  • Analysis: EU cushions biodiesel from damning carbon research, 15 July 2011 by Reuters: "The EU will protect existing investment in its $13 billion biodiesel sector even as it acts on new evidence that suggests making the fuel from food crops can do more harm than good in fighting climate change."
    • "The reports said using Asian palm oil, South American soybeans and EU rapeseed to make biodiesel has a bigger overall impact than conventional diesel on climate change, partly due to forests or wetlands being destroyed to grow replacement food."
    • "European Union policymakers are preparing a political compromise that will safeguard existing biodiesel investments, having baulked at penalizing individual biofuel crops."
    • "With biodiesel representing about 80 percent of Europe's estimated $17 billion market for biofuels and the bloc dependent on diesel imports to meet rising demand, the officials agreed to delay any action that could kill off the biodiesel sector."
    • "The dilemma facing EU policymakers concerns a relatively new concept known as indirect land-use change (ILUC), which challenges the notion that biofuels only emit as much carbon when burned as they absorbed during growth."[11]
  • Climate impact threatens biodiesel future in EU, 8 July 2011 by Reuters: "Europe's world-leading $13 billion biodiesel industry, which has boomed in the wake of a decision by Brussels policymakers in 2003 to promote it, is now on the verge of being legislated out of existence after the studies revealed biodiesel's indirect impact cancels out most of its benefits."
    • "The EU has been arguing for two years over the extent of indirect damage to the environment caused by it setting a target of increasing biofuel use to 10 percent of all road fuels by 2020, from less than three percent today."
    • "Its own analysis shows the target may lead to an indirect one-off release of around 1,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide -- more than twice the annual emissions of Germany."
    • "Biofuels were once seen as a silver bullet for curbing transport emissions, based on a theory that they only emit as much carbon as they absorbed during growth."
    • "But that has been undermined by a new concept known as 'indirect land-use change' (ILUC), which scientists are still struggling to accurately quantify."
    • "'The experts unanimously agreed that, even when uncertainties are high, there is strong evidence that the ILUC effect is significant,' said the report from the Commission's November workshop."
    • "Biodiesel from Asian palm oil, South American soy beans, and EU rapeseed all had a bigger overall climate impact than conventional diesel, said a fourth leaked document."
    • "The Commission's impact analysis predicts EU demand for biodiesel will collapse if their indirect impacts are taken into account in EU legislation. But at the same time it sees a sharp rise in demand for bioethanol from cereal crops and sugarcane, as well as advanced biodiesel produced from algae."[12]
  • Survey Says Consumers Consider Ethanol A Green Product, 23 May 2011 by "In a study released by Genencor during the BIO World Congress in Toronto, when U.S. consumers were asked to name a product they considered green, 39 percent of them named ethanol first and 31 percent of Canadian respondents also named ethanol as a green product."
    • "In addition, the study found that four in 10 American consumers and about a third of Canadian consumers have already heard the term 'biobased' to describe various products including fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, as well as cleaning and personal care products and clothing."
    • "'It was very interesting to see that ethanol was at the top of the list. Now of course we were very pleased with that because ethanol is such an important product and such an important marketplace for us,' said Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Genencor. 'But it also shows that the consumer really starts to buy in to the concept of the importance of home produced fuels and really the contribution that ethanol is delivering to the economy.'"[13]
  • Swedish forests spawn new 'green' diesel, 2 May 2011 by The Local: "In recent years, rising concerns over traditional fuel’s harmful pollutants sparked a global rage for biofuels derived from biomass ranging from discarded corn husks to animal fats."
    • "Earlier this year, Preem, a leading Swedish oil company, emerged as the world’s first company to offer an innovative biodiesel made from tall oil, a renewable by-product of the forestry industry."
    • "Known as Preem Evolution Diesel, this green diesel is composed of about one fifth raw material and according to the company, cuts carbon emissions by 16 percent when compared to traditional diesel, which corresponds to the leading carbon emissions rate-cut of any biodiesel on the market."
    • "Whereas most biodiesels on the market today offer a blend of 5 percent renewable material, Preem’s Evolution is a mix that consists of about 15 percent tall oil and 5 percent rapeseed oil, setting a new global height for renewable content"
    • "'It is a good product, but we should also be aware that the world’s tall oil (supply) is very limited and this blend will only serve a fraction of the need,' says Lars Lind, a biofuel expert employed with the Swedish specialty chemical company Perstorp."[14]
  • Washington Start-Up Promises Cheaper, More Efficient Biofuel Generation, 22 April 2011 by Triple Pundit: "One start-up in Washington state promises that it can develop biodiesel cost effectively with a wide range of feedstocks: everything from wood chips to waste from the pulp and paper industry."
    • "The company uses two fuel processing techniques that can convert wood and other plant-based materials into biodiesel: one is specifically from the pulp and paper industry, the other similar to petroleum refining."
    • "Instead of using enzymes or microbes, the process involves acid hydrolysis, almost identical to a process that the pulp and paper industry uses."
    • "According to Mercurius, a biorefinery using its technology could produce biodiesel at US$0.90 a gallon; that is almost two-thirds less than the cost to make a gallon of cellulosic ethanol, which currently runs about US$2.40 a gallon."[15]
  • ISU creates 'Nintendo for biofuel nerds.', 18 April 2011 by The Gazette: "I-BOS (the Interactive Biorefinery Operations Simulator) is no game. It’s based on real Iowa biorefineries that are producing ethanol and biodiesel."
    • "It’s designed to help students in Iowa State’s biorenewable resources and technology program learn about biofuel production. And it could be used by the biofuel industry to help train employees to operate a biorefinery."
    • "It’s based on differential calculations that describe the fundamental transport phenomena and incorporate the principles of mass and energy conservation. The simulations also take into account more than 20 specific production attributes including moisture, starch content, contaminants, temperature and particle size."
    • "The virtual control room is now written to simulate the operation of ethanol and biodiesel plants. It keeps track of energy consumption, production efficiency and fuel quality."
    • "The virtual control room can also offer training and experience with new feedstocks and technologies. Grewell said as new ideas are developed, and as researchers understand the processes and conversions, feedstocks such as cellulose from plants or oil from algae can be written into the simulations."
  • China biofuel policy may be in conflict with food security objectives, 28 March 2011 by "The United States Department of Agriculture says China's food security objectives may clash with its energy independence and environmental objectives, limiting the development of biofuels, according to the latest publication by the US International Trade Commission."
    • "Like wheat, the Chinese government views corn as important for national food security and provides support for domestic corn growers by guaranteeing prices for domestic corn from state-owned enterprises and by providing subsidized seed, while controlling exports to ensure that corn is available for domestic use. But strong demand, coupled with poor production in 2009-2010 led China to import around 1.5 million mt of US corn and in 2010, China became a net corn importer."
    • "According to the report, China has been making an effort to move away from grain-based ethanol production and into alternative feedstocks. Until May 2006, government subsidies were limited to fuel ethanol, at which time the central government outlined the creation of a special fund to encourage the development of renewable energy resources, including ethanol and biodiesel."
    • "China's National Reform and Development Commission asserts that targeted biofuel production will not threaten China's grain security, but feedstock sources may be expanded to include sugar, oilseeds, sweet sorghum, wheat, and cassava, resulting in higher imports of these feedstocks."[16]
  • Swedes eye budding biofuels industry, 25 March 2011 by Mmegi Online: "The Swedish government and its private sector are hoping to secure a foothold in Botswana's nascent biofuels industry that kicked off recently with plans for a five million-litre per annum processing plant."
    • "Specifically, the Swedes hope to be involved in jatropha research, the "wonder plant" whose cultivation and oil are expected to fuel the processing plant government plans to purchase this year."
    • "According to the MoU, the Scandinavian nation is also interested in biodiesel production from animal fat and biogas production from cow dung."
    • "The Swedes also hope to cooperate with Botswana in the development of strategies on energy efficiency for the transport sector, as well as on renewable energies and biomass - the renewable energy from biological material."
    • "Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) CEO, Jacob Raleru, stressed that the country's energy policy requires 25 percent of all electricity to be from solar power by 2030."[17]
  • Midwest senators strike back with pro-biofuels bill, 11 March 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Two Midwest senators proposed legislation March 10 favoring the build-out of biofuels infrastructure and continued federal support of ethanol and biodiesel. The Securing America’s Future with Energy and Sustainable Technologies Act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., would establish incentives for biofuels infrastructure and deployment, develop a 'more cost-effective' tax credit program for ethanol and biodiesel, establish a renewable energy standard and encourage greater production of hybrid, electric and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs)."
    • "The bill immediately received widespread support from renewable fuels and agriculture groups."
    • "The legislation also includes text that would prevent the U.S. EPA from considering international indirect land use changes when calculating biofuels’ lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and calls for the National Academies of Science to conduct a review of methodologies used to project indirect GHG emissions relating to transportation fuels."[19]
  • Vilsack: US Farms Producing Enough for Food & Biofuels, 6 March 2011 by "Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says American farmers are producing enough to provide the food AND fuel, in particular ethanol and biodiesel, this country needs."
    • "Vilsack took the blame for food price increases off the American farmers and biofuels industry and put it on a more likely culprit."
    • "'I think OPEC has more to do with food price increases than farmers,' pointing out that even if you doubled the price of commodities, farmers, with their paltry 20 cents of every food dollar share, wouldn’t see much of an increase in their pocketbooks."[20]
  • Ethanol industry watching federal tax credit, 7 February 2011 by "The 3.5 billion gallons of ethanol pumped out yearly in Iowa makes the Hawkeye State the nation's top producer."
    • "Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says ethanol's success is supplemented by a federal tax credit, amounting to 45-cents per gallon for the ethanol blender. It's worth a total of $9 billion and runs through the end of the year."
    • "Something else the renewable energy industry has its eye on is the biodiesel tax credit for 2012. After Congress decided to go without it in 2010, Northey says it badly hurt the industry, which is why it was reinstated for this year."[21]
  • Biodiesel roars back with mandate, tax credits, B20 OKs, 7 February 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "'The EPA has said that they are going to enforce the 800 million gallon volume RFS2 requirement' said National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe to Biodiesel magazine, 'and we will have the tax credit in place.'"
    • "At the same time, there are challenges on the feedstock front. Bottom line, jatropha, camelina and algae are still emerging feedstocks, soy and canola are pricey, waste oils & greases are tough to find at scale, and palm is politically radioactive."
    • "For sure, the biodiesel industry is in a right jolly mood in comparison to 2009 or 2010, and has set its theme as 'Advance'. In part, that’s a recognition of biodiesel, under the rules of the Renewable Fuel Standard, as an 'advanced biofuel’ and that’s a market position that the biodiesel industry would like to have in the mind of every renewable fuels stakeholder"
    • "We continue to see biodiesel as a growing fuel, but not yet do we see the near-term feedstock availability, at affordable prices, for the fuel to have major US advancements beyond mandated levels in the billion-gallon range, before mid-decade, without importing jatropha oil from abroad (if it is not snapped up by the military or aviation sectors first)."[22]
  • Hawaiian Electric seeks suppliers of biodiesel for Campbell Industrial Park Generating Station, 1 February 2011 press release by the Hawaiian Electric Company: "Hawaiian Electric Company today issued a call for a supply of three to seven million gallons of biodiesel per year for the 110-megawatt Campbell Estate Industrial Park Generating Station."
    • "The request for proposals (RFP) states Hawaiian Electric’s preference for locally produced biodiesel. In addition, Hawaiian Electric places a qualitative value on biodiesel made in the United States from domestic feedstocks."
    • "The CIP generating station currently uses biodiesel from Renewable Energy Group (REG), an Iowa-based supplier providing biodiesel from yellow grease or waste animal fat."
    • "All biofuel provided to any Hawaiian Electric Company must conform to environmental guidelines for the sustainable use of biofuels developed by Hawaiian Electric Company in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council."
    • "In addition, the Hawaii Biofuels Foundation is currently developing guidelines for sustainable production of local biofuels in partnership with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels."[23]
  • Two-thirds of UK biofuel fails green standard, figures show, 27 January 2011 by the Guardian: "Less than one-third of the biofuel used on UK roads meets government environmental standards intended to protect water supplies, soil quality and carbon stocks, according to new figures."
    • "The Renewable Fuels Agency says that just 31% of the biofuel supplied under the government's initiative to use fuel from plants to help tackle climate change met its green standard. For the remaining 69% of the biofuel, suppliers could not say where it came from, or could not prove it was produced in a sustainable way, the figures show."
    • "The majority of UK biofuel is imported. Biodiesel from soy was the single biggest source (31%) in 2009/10, with a large increase in Argentinian soy compared to the previous year, something that Friends of the Earth biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter calls a 'huge cause for concern'."[24]


  • Biofuel jatropha falls from wonder-crop pedestal, 21 January 2011 by Reuters: "Jatropha, a biofuel-producing plant once touted as a wonder-crop, is turning out to be much less dependable than first thought, both environmentalists and industry players say."
    • "Some biofuel producers found themselves agreeing with many of the criticisms detailed in a report launched by campaign group Friends of the Earth this week -- 'Jatropha: money doesn't grow on trees.'"
    • "Jatropha has been widely heralded as a wonder plant whose cultivation on non-arable land in Africa, Asia and Latin America would provide biodiesel and jobs in poor countries without using farmland needed to feed growing numbers of local people."
    • "'The idea that jatropha can be grown on marginal land is a red herring,' Harry Stourton, Business Development Director of UK-based Sun Biofuels, which cultivates jatropha in Mozambique and Tanzania, told Reuters."
    • "'It does grow on marginal land, but if you use marginal land you'll get marginal yields,' he said."[25]
  • Tide turns against corn ethanol, 20 December 2010 by Jeff Tollefson: "Buffeted by the economic crisis and a drop in the oil price, US producers of corn ethanol are encountering increasing scepticism from the legislators on Capitol Hill even as producers of the 'greener' cellulose-derived ethanol struggle to move beyond basic research and development."
    • "The tax package brokered by US President Barack Obama... included a host of incentives for energy development. Among them was a one-year extension of a tax credit giving refiners nearly 12 cents of federal cash for every litre of corn ethanol they blend into gasoline. A tariff of more than 14 cents per litre on imported ethanol was also extended through 2011."
    • "These are shorter times than industry wanted, marking a victory for environmentalists and budget hawks who see the roughly US$6-billion-a-year benefit as wasteful spending on a mature industry. Critics say the corn ethanol credit eats up scarce federal resources and puts cellulosic ethanol at a competitive disadvantage."
    • "The mandated levels of biofuel production in the United States will increase to 53 billion litres in 2011 — about 8% of the country's total fuel consumption — and will ramp up to more than 136 billion litres by 2022. Around 90% of the biofuel will come from conventional corn ethanol next year, with the remainder coming from biodiesel and other "advanced biofuels". Last month, however, the US Environmental Protection Agency pulled back the 2011 requirement for cellulosic biofuels from 946 million to 25 million litres, citing delays in scaling up production."
  • Germany relaxes rule on biofuel sustainability, 15 December 2010 by Michael Hogan: "Germany has temporarily relaxed rules requiring raw materials for biofuels come from sustainable output, a move which industry bodies said on Wednesday will smooth imports of rapeseed and rapeseed oil for biodiesel use."
    • "The directive aims to protect tropical rain forests being cut down for biofuel crop production. But German industry associations had feared the failure of other EU states to implement the rule on time would mean Germany would not have been able to import non-certified rapeseed and rapeseed oil from other EU states in 2011."
    • "Germany imports about two million tonnes of rapeseed annually for food and biodiesel production."
    • "'The change is limited to June 2011 so we now hope that other EU states will also introduce the EU directive otherwise we will be faced with the problem again,' the UFOP spokesman said."[26]
  • Common roadside plant could become new source of biofuel, 5 November 2010 by "Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, have found that field pennycress yields impressive quantities of seeds whose oil could be used in biodiesel production."
    • "Field pennycress belongs to the Brassicaceae family, along with canola, camelina and mustard-other prolific producers of oil-rich seeds. The ARS studies help support USDA's efforts to develop new sources of bioenergy."
    • "Pennycress can be grown during the winter and harvested in late spring, so farmers who cultivate pennycress can also maintain their usual summer soybean production without reducing crop yields."[28]
  • Malaysia's once-vaunted biofuel industry grinds to halt, 6 September 2010 by AFP: "Malaysia's once-vaunted biofuel industry has seen production grind to a halt since a March announcement that the government's mandatory switch to the green energy will be delayed to June 2011."
    • "Malaysia had ambitions to become a global leader in biodiesel and unveiled grand plans for the industry as the price of crude oil spiralled, peaking in mid-2008."
    • "However, the future of the alternative fuels is now in question given cheaper crude prices and the higher cost of Malaysia's palm oil."
    • "Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) figures show that the production of biodiesel, a mixture of diesel with five percent processed palm oil, dropped 99 percent from 12,640 tonnes in March to just 137 tonnes in July."
    • "Malaysian Biodiesel Association vice-president U.R. Unnithan said the country had the capacity to produce 2.6 million tonnes of biofuel annually but that demand had completely dried up."
    • "Unnithan said Malaysian biofuel cannot compete in international markets as many countries have protectionist measures and subsidies in place."[29]
  • For Gulf, Biofuels Are Worse Than Oil Spill , 17 June 2010 editorial by Investor's Business Daily: "Our growing addiction to alternative energy was killing aquatic life in the Gulf long before the Deepwater Horizon spill. Abandoning oil will kill more and also release more carbon dioxide into the air."
    • "Before the first gallon gushed from Deepwater Horizon, there existed an 8,500 square mile 'dead zone' below the Mississippi River Delta....Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, caused by agricultural runoff...has been on an upward trend as acreage for corn destined to become ethanol increases."
    • The OECD "recently stated in a report: 'When acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall impact of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel.'"[32]
  • Biofuels from algae plagued with problems, says review, 7 May 2010 by SciDevNet: "Hopes that algae could become a source of biodiesel that is friendly both to the environment and the poor may be premature, according to a review."
    • Algae feedstocks "have serious drawbacks that may mean they can never compete with other fuels, according to Gerhard Knothe, a research chemist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service."
    • "When researching his paper, 'Production and Properties of Biodiesel from Algal Oils' which will be published by Springer in a book, currently in press, entitled Algae for Biofuels and Energy, he made "unexpected" findings, he said."
    • "Knothe found that 'many, if not most' of the biodiesel fuels derived from algae have 'significant problems' when it comes to their ability to flow well at lower temperatures ('cold flow') and they also degrade more easily than other biofuels."
    • "The principal hope for overcoming the problem," scientists said, "is through genetic engineering of algae so they yield oils with more useful properties."[33]
  • IFPRI Publishes Study on the EU Biofuels Mandate, by The International Food Policy Research Institute: "The report is one of four commissioned by the European Commission to assess the impacts of the 10% target for the use of renewable energy in road transport fuels by 2020."
    • "The study uses a global general equilibrium model, separately including numerous first generation ethanol and biodiesel feedstocks, co-generated products, farming techniques, as well as direct, and indirect land-use changes (ILUC) resulting from the mandated increase in consumption of biofuels. Additionally, as the model is global, it also considers different multi- and bilateral trade scenarios."
    • "The results indicate that there is ILUC associated with the EU mandate, but that the mandate will still result in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings of nearly 13 million tons over 20 years. Additionally, the authors find that the mandate will have only a negligible effect on food prices and, concerning biodiesel, even with ILUC taken into account, imported palm oil remains as efficient as European rapeseed."[35]
  • Bad year for biofuel ends on a dour note, 1 January 2010 by AP/Washington Post: "A federal tax credit that provided makers of biodiesel $1 for every gallon expired Friday. As a result, some U.S. producers say they will shut down without the government subsidy."
    • "Biodiesel's woes come on top of a year of problems for the fledgling biofuel industry - an irony given the push to cut down on greenhouse gases and ease the nation's need for foreign oil. A key driver for the alternative fuel - the high cost of oil - disappeared as diesel prices dropped 18 percent since the beginning of the recession. Then in March the European Union placed import-killing tariffs on biodiesel and other biofuels."
    • "The biodiesel industry is now operating at only 15 percent of its potential capacity, according to the National Biodiesel Board, largely because the price of traditional diesel has collapsed. There are close to 180 biodiesel plants operating in about 40 states."
    • "There is little chance that the U.S. will reach alternative fuel benchmarks of 36 billion gallons a year by 2022 in hopes of weaning the nation off foreign oil."[38]


  • Brazilian miner Vale signs $500M palm oil deal in the Amazon, 25 June 2009 by "Vale, the world's largest miner of iron ore, has signed a $500 million joint venture with Biopalma da Amazonia to produce 160,000 metric tons of palm oil-based biodiesel per year....Vale says the deal will save $150 million in fuel costs starting in 2014, with palm oil biodiesel replacing up to 20 percent of diesel consumption in the company's northern operations. The biodiesel will be produced from oil palm plantations in the Amazon state of Pará."
    • "environmentalists...fear palm oil production could soon become a major driver of deforestation in the region. Cultivation of oil palm is a leading cause of forest loss across Southeast Asia, but has yet to be widely planted in the Brazilian Amazon, where deforestation is mostly driven directly by conversion for cattle pasture expansion and indirectly by expansion of industrial agriculture, including soy."
  • Biofuels do well as jet fuel, Boeing says, 22 June 2009 by The Oregonian: "Good news for the struggling biofuels industry: The plant-derived fuels perform favorably as jet fuel, a study by Boeing and others in the aviation industry has concluded."
    • "In the [U.S.] Northwest, Imperium Renewables is banking on jet fuel to help drive up demand for fuel from its 100 million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant near Grays Harbor, Wash. The plant is currently idled amid the economic downturn."
    • "According to the study, a series of laboratory, ground and flight tests conducted between 2006 and 2009 indicated the test fuels performed as well as or better than typical petroleum-based Jet A fuel."
    • "Each of the test flights used a different blend of biofuel sources: An Air New Zealand flight used fuel derived from jatropha; a Continental flight used a blend of jatropha and algae-based fuels; and a Japan Airlines flight used a blend of jatropha, algae and camelina-based fuels."[40]
  • Korean firms set to invest $475M on biofuel plants, 29 May 2009 by BusinessWorld: Manila, Philippines--local firms sign "an agreement with South Korean companies to put up two biofuel plants costing a combined $475 million."
    • Two agreements signed for bioethanol and biodiesel production.
    • "...bioethanol producer Enviro Plasma, Ltd. and Central Luzon Bioenergy Corp. will put up a 500,000-liter per day bioethanol plant worth $300 million in Clark, Pampanga with sugarcane feedstock from 46,000 hectares of plantation..."
    • "South Korean biodiesel producer Eco Solutions Co., Ltd. and partner Eco Global Bio-Oils, Inc. will invest $175 million to put up a biodiesel plant capable of producing 100,000 liters of biodiesel per day...Eco Solutions had committed to invest at least 100,000 hectares to plant jatropha".
  • Weak oil and imports turn EU biofuel boom to gloom, 24 February 2009 by Reuters: "Many companies across the European Union have abandoned or halted biofuel projects and more damage will occur if oil prices do not rise significantly in 2009 and the bloc does not manage to protect its market, producers and analysts said."
    • "European producers of biodiesel -- by far the main biofuel made in the bloc -- also blamed their troubles on cheap subsidized imports, mainly from the United States."
    • These quickly became direct competitors for European makers, notably in France, Europe's second largest biofuel maker, where refiners must blend a fixed amount of the plant-based fuels to avoid paying a fine but do not have to buy the local product.
    • "The European Commission, the EU executive, plans next month to propose imposing anti-dumping duties on U.S. biodiesel, a measure that could provisionally take effect a month later, sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters last week."[41]



  • San Francisco Fleet is All Biodiesel from the New York Times, 14 December 2007, the mayor announced that the city has completed a year-long project to convert its entire vehicle fleet to biodiesel created from midwestern soy oil.



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1Biofuels for Transportation (draft) (2006, Worldwatch Institute), p.13-14. Used with permission.

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