Biodiesel Then and Now


There has been lot of buzz around biodiesel lately, and for a good reason. Many companies around the world are working toward reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiesel can contribute to these initiatives. What might not be common knowledge is the history of biodiesel. Here's an overview of the development of biodiesel.


Created out of a desire to improve upon the steam engines that were commonly used, the diesel engine was introduced by Rudolf Diesel. Diesel, along with the French government, experimented with vegetable oil fuels for areas of the world where petroleum wasn’t available. The original design of the engine was able to run on different types of fuel.


First demonstration of a diesel engine running on peanut oil at the 1900 Paris Exposition. The French government commissioned Otto company to build the engine. The government was interested in using vegetable oils as domestic fuel in their African colonies.


Petroleum becomes more widely available and becomes the industry standard.


A Belgian inventor first proposed using transesterification, the commonly-used process that is used to produce biodiesel today. Newer diesel engines couldn’t run on traditional vegetable oils due to its high viscosity.


Concerns over environment, energy security, and overproduction in the agriculture industry saw the rise in popularity of after the energy crisis of the 1970’s.


Pacific Biodiesel, located in Maui, Hawaii, became one of the first biodiesel plants in the United States. Used cooking oil was the main feedstock used in production.


Biodiesel production reached 1.1 billion gallons, with the majority of gallons being produced in Europe.



California begins implementing the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, one of the most aggressive lower carbon initiatives in the United States. This program promotes the use of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel.



The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts biodiesel production will reach 115,000 barrels per day.


Chevron Renewable Energy Group has been a leading producer of biofuel for more than 25 years. Contact us today if you'd like more information about biodiesel.


*Information sourced from






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