What Biodiesel Is … and What It Isn’t

There are a growing number of alternative fuel options, and it can be hard to keep them straight and understand the benefits of each. So let’s take a closer look at biodiesel and clear up some questions you may have.

Biodiesel fuel pump


First, here are some things that biodiesel IS:

One of the cleanest fuel sources across its entire lifecycle

Biodiesel reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 86% compared with petroleum diesel. It’s also among the cleanest options compared with other fuel types, according to California’s clean air agency. Fuel choice must play a big part in the fight against climate change because transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Each day a fleet waits to switch to cleaner fuels, more harmful emissions enter the atmosphere further compounding the problem. 

Easy to adopt today

Biodiesel is a liquid fuel that can be used in existing diesel engines and fueling infrastructure without additional capital expense. In fact, if a driver of a diesel vehicle has filled up at a convenience store or truck stop recently, there’s a good chance they’ve already used biodiesel. 

Widely available thanks to a reliable, renewable supply

Biodiesel is made from a variety of feedstocks, including used cooking oil, vegetable oils, animal fats and even algae. That means it has a flexible supply chain, which provides more predictable pricing and availability as well as the ability to customize the fuel to a fleet’s specific needs.

Part of an integrated energy management approach

The growing demand for sustainable fuel sources means fleets should consider every available option and adopt any and all that meet their needs. Biodiesel can be used in varying blend levels (up to B100) and can also be blended with renewable diesel. So perhaps some vehicles in a fleet run on B20 (20% biodiesel), some run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and some run on our unique blend of biodiesel and renewable diesel called REG Ultra Clean®. 

Cost-effective due to reduced maintenance needs

Biodiesel has greater lubricity than ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), which helps engines run more smoothly. It also has higher Cetane, which means shorter ignition time. Plus, that cleaner burn means less particulate matter ends up in a truck’s diesel particulate filter, reducing DPF clogging and the need for regens.

And here are some things that biodiesel is NOT:

Waiting for new technology to get to the performance level you need

Electric vehicles (EV) are exciting and will make a big difference down the road, but we have to act today to slow climate change, and electric trucks just aren’t ready for the long haul yet. Diesel engines will dominate the fleet industry for years to come, and biodiesel is an easy switch to affect change immediately. 

Hard on engines, diesel particulate filters or MPG

We’ve heard from diesel technicians who say they can’t tell the difference in the performance of an engine running on biodiesel — and some who even say they have fewer DPF headaches after switching. 

Harmful to the environment

Just the opposite, in fact. In addition to the significant emissions reductions biodiesel offers, we strive to minimize our carbon footprint in biodiesel production by sourcing feedstocks responsibly, looking for ways to improve the production process and delivering our fuels in vehicles that also run on biodiesel. 

A choice between food and fuel

Biodiesel plays a vital role in strengthening food security and reducing pressure on food prices, which we call a Food THEN FuelTM approach. Because biodiesel is made from waste products not suitable for consumption, it actually spurs supply. 

Renewable diesel

“What is the difference between renewable diesel and biodiesel?” is a common question. Renewable diesel and biodiesel are made from the same feedstocks, are low-carbon fuels and can be used in existing diesel equipment. But they are different fuels made from different production processes. Another difference is supply: There’s much more biodiesel available in North America than there is renewable diesel today.

So what do biodiesel users say?

Here are just a few things fleet operators have said about their experiences with biodiesel.

“I’m 100% on board with biodiesel. Our equipment has lasted and done a really good job.”

— Roger Ritchie, maintenance manager at a public transit fleet 

“We put over 100,000 miles a year on some trucks, and they need the power to run themselves and tow a large truck. Biodiesel has given us what we need. On top of that, it has been a more cost-effective option. Lowering costs while keeping income the same? Makes sense to me.”

— Dustin Tapp, owner of a towing and recovery fleet with medium- and heavy-duty trucks

“I use biodiesel blends in absolutely everything that’s diesel powered. When it costs nothing to clean up the environment, it would just be absolutely ridiculous to not do it.”

— Ed Davison, co-owner of a trucking fleet

If you have more questions about biodiesel or you’re ready to make the switch, we’d love to help. Call us at (844) 405-0160 or email [email protected].



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