The abnormally warm autumn we had here in the Midwest seems like a distant memory. Freezing, even sub-zero temperatures have set in. Winter is here.
That has me thinking about one of the most persistent myths about biodiesel: The fuel can’t be used in cold weather.
That would come as a shock to the biodiesel user I know of in International Falls, Minnesota, a city nicknamed the “Icebox of the Nation,” plus the countless other fleets and individual drivers in the northern U.S. and Canada that use biodiesel blends of up to 20% year-round.
Some myths die hard, however. Here are five about biodiesel you may have heard and the facts that debunk them.
Myth 1: Biodiesel doesn’t work in cold weather.
Fact: There are c-stores and truck stops throughout North America that offer biodiesel blends all year long, and that’s because there are individual drivers and fleets that use the fuel in all weather conditions. Biodiesel also is blended with heating oil to warm homes instead of natural gas, particularly in the Northeast.
Myth 2: Biodiesel use will void warranties.
Fact: Nearly 80% of OEMs producing diesel vehicles for the U.S. market support B20 or higher blends. That rises to almost 90 percent for medium- and heavy-duty truck OEMs.
Myth 3: Biodiesel does not perform as well as diesel.
Fact: Biodiesel has superior lubricity and higher cetane than petroleum diesel and provides similar horsepower, torque and fuel mileage. Biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engines and fuel-injection equipment in blends up to 20% with little effect on operating performance.
Myth 4: Biodiesel fuel quality is inconsistent.
Fact: Today’s biodiesel meets stringent ASTM fuel specifications. The industry’s BQ-9000® accreditation program offers additional quality assurance.
Myth 5: Biodiesel drives up food prices.
Fact: The truth is biodiesel production adds value to by-products of the foodservice and agricultural industries that otherwise would be waste, such as used cooking oil. These benefits trickle down to consumers.
Jon Scharingson oversees the sales and marketing efforts for Renewable Energy Group, Inc., a leading biodiesel producer.