Biodiesel vs. Diesel: Everything You Need to Know

breaker for biodiesel

There are 9.3 billion gallons of biodiesel consumed in 56 countries in a year. This is because of the desire to achieve a cleaner and safer environment — and so alternative sources of energy such as biodiesel have become a trend. However, biodiesel and diesel are usually interchangeably applied, which can cause confusion. This article will help you to understand biodiesel vs diesel in greater detail. Read until the end to decide which one is better for your engine.

What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a mix of different resources of recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats. It is a renewable, clean-burning type of diesel that can be used as a replacement for petroleum diesel in existing diesel engines. Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel available nationwide that needs to be labeled at the pump when blended at over 4%. When filling up, check for the black and blue stickers. 

Who Uses Biodiesel?

Every automobile and trucking industry can find a use for biodiesel.  The most common reason is using it as fuel in diesel engines. Biodiesel also has use for running other types of machinery, including generators, lighting equipment, and marine vessels. Some distinct uses of biodiesel include:

  • Transportation
  • Generation of energy
  • Heat generation
  • For cooking

What is the Difference Between Diesel and Biodiesel?

To better understand the difference between Diesel and Biodiesel, let’s break them down into categories. 

Production process

  • Diesel: comes from crude oil or petroleum that goes through a refining process known as fractional distillation.
  • Biodiesel: is derived from recycled vegetable oil, soybean oil, or animal fats that undergo a transesterification chemical process.

CO2 emissions

  • Diesel: causes air pollution and its emissions contain harmful chemicals that put people at risk for lung cancer.
  • Biodiesel: has fewer CO2 emissions, making it environmentally friendly. It helps promote cleaner air and reduces the effects of global warming. 


  • Diesel: it is a little cheaper, but supply may need to come from foreign countries. 
  • Biodiesel: it is slightly more expensive, but since raw materials are found locally, it can help improve the economy by reducing the need for imported oils. 

Can You Use Biodiesel in a Regular Diesel Engine?

Wherever you are in the United States, you can expect to have some biodiesel when purchasing diesel fuel. Most, if not all, major OEMs selling diesel engines in the U.S. support the use of B5 (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel). While most diesel vehicles can use B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) without engine modifications. 

Advantages of Using Biodiesel

Biodiesel has helped other countries in decreasing their dependence on foreign oil reserves. Switching to biodiesel has many benefits, including:

  • Ease of use: no vehicle changes or any fuel equipment modifications are needed.
  • Power, performance, and savings: it is proven to have power generation, good performance, and is cost-efficient, making it a great alternative fuel.
  • Effect on the environment: it helps in reducing pollution and improving health by decreasing the emission of carbon dioxide, which reduces the effect of global warming.
  • Sustainability: it decreases the need to import foreign oils.
  • Toxicity: it is safer to handle since it’s less toxic and easy to use and store.
  • Economy: it helps local communities by keeping the dollars at home.

Disadvantages of Using Biodiesel

While the use of biodiesel has a lot of positives, it doesn’t come without its fair share of disadvantages. Here are some of the cons in using biodiesel that you need to be aware of:

  • Cost: it is currently around one and a half times more expensive than petroleum diesel.
  • Energy resources: producing biodiesel from soya crops needs lots of energy. Moreover, sowing, fertilizing, and harvesting need loads of energy as well. 
  • Maintenance: biodiesel cleans the dirt from the engine, but this dirt can collect in the fuel filter and can cause clogs. Meaning, you may need to replace the air filter more often.
  • Distribution: the biodiesel fuel distribution infrastructures need improvement. 

Biodiesel Market Expansion

Recently, biodiesel is getting more attention because of its low carbon emissions and good performance. Biodiesel is an eco-friendly fuel and a clean-burning liquid fuel. It is a safe, non-toxic, and non-polluting source of energy. Not only that, but biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that’s been approved by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and passed the Health-Effects Test of the Clean Air Act.

There are three major growth drivers for biodiesel in the market:

  • EPAct Amendment: this Act was amended to include biodiesel fuel for the federal, state and public utility fleets for alternative fuel requirements. Fleets earn one EPAct credit for every 450 gallons of B-100. They purchase it as blends of 20% or more and use it in vehicles with a weight of 8500 pounds.
  • Tax incentives: the federal government provides a tax credit for biodiesel as mandated by the American Jobs Creation Act. The tax credit is a penny per percent of biodiesel that is blended using agricultural products and a half if recycled ones. 
  • Federal and state laws: the new federal and new state laws require biodiesel to be included in diesel. 

The biodiesel current market is competitive with many global offers giving advanced biodiesel-based products. Some leading manufacturers are determined on partnering with major distributors to meet up the high demands. Companies are doing innovations and developing new ways to help them in reducing manufacturing costs and facilitating easy distillation. 

Biodiesel vs. Diesel: The Verdict

A clean and renewable form of energy is the key to the future. Using biodiesel may help solve the problems of global warming. It is not only safe for your engine, but it is also safer for the environment. While biodiesel has its cons, these cons don’t outweigh the benefits. But then again, in the end, you decide what’s best for your vehicle. Your engine, your choice!

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