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Benefits of Community-Based Biodiesel Production and Distribution

by Kelly Roberts

Biodiesel fuel is produced from a vegetable oil such as soybean oil through a refinery process that requires adherence to strict industry standards. As a growing industry in the U.S., the production and local distribution of biodiesel as an alternative fuel source for diesel engines offers numerous benefits to consumers and the nation as a whole.

Benefits to Farmers

Because biodiesel fuel can be made from a variety of agricultural crops, farmers benefit by rotating crops used for biodiesel production with other crops. Crop rotation offers additional benefits to farmers such as reducing soil erosion and improving the overall health of the soil by changing the nutrients and composition of the soil. In addition to farmers increasing their incomes by adding oilseed crops to the other agricultural crops they grow, plant operators can make biodiesel from several different feedstock. This allows producers to control refining costs since they are less affected by price fluctuations in crops.

Benefits to the Domestic and Local Economies

Because the fuel is produced and distributed locally, biodiesel fuel production improves the economy of local communities. The farming and production of feedstock for biodiesel create jobs, produce income for area farmers and producers, and increase the tax base for communities where plant operations are based.

Another key advantage is that by distributing the fuel in the communities where it is grown, biodiesel decreases the nation's dependence on imported foreign crude oil and boosts the domestic economy. Less dependence on foreign oil for energy also contributes to reducing the nation's trade deficit.

Benefits to the Environment

Since it takes less fossil fuel to produce and refine, the production of biodiesel fuel has less of a negative impact on the environment. The production of biofuels also slows the depletion of fossil fuels as energy resources.

Although biofiesel releases carbon dioxide into the air when it is burned, the crops farmers grow make the fuel remove carbon dioxide from the air. This is a critical advantage since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, too much of which in the atmosphere can warm the planet and lead to potentially destructive climate changes.

Besides reducing the smell of diesel fuel exhaust, burning biodiesel as fuel offers other significant benefits to the environment. Biodiesel is a clean-burning fuel that produces lower exhaust emissions, helping to reduce air pollution. The fuel releases less smoke and fewer chemical pollutants into the air that contribute to smog, acid rain, or human health problems.

Key Benefits of Biodiesel Fuel

Because of its qualities as an alternative fuel, the use of the biodiesel offers several additional advantages:

  • Biodiesel is a renewable energy source.

  • Vehicles usually require no special fueling requirements to use biodiesel (some older vehicles may need natural rubber fuel lines -- that can swell and crack – replaced with braided stainless steel).

  • Biodiesel contains no petroleum and can be used pure or in blends (of any proportion) with petroleum diesel fuels.

  • Biodiesel fuel lubricates an engine's fuel injection system, which can extend its useful life.

  • Consumers can switch between the use of biodiesel and petroleum diesel.

  • Biodiesel has a high flash point (the lowest temperature at which the fuel can vaporize and ignite in the air) which makes it safer to handle and store than petroleum diesel.

  • Availability of biodiesel pumps at fueling stations continues to grow across the nation.

For more information on diesel fuels, talk to a professional.