What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel, also known as fatty-acid methyl esters, is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend.  It can be used in compression ignition (diesel) engines with no major modifications.  Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.   Biodiesel is the first fuel commercially produced nationwide that meets US EPA’s definition of an advanced biofuel.

Is biodiesel the same as vegetable oil?

Absolutely not!  Biodiesel is a fatty-acid methyl ester that has been chemically converted from vegetable oil.  Commercial biodiesel must be produced to strict ASTM D6751 specifications which requires all vegetable oils to be converted into fatty-acid methyl esters.  Only biodiesel that meets spec and is registered with the EPA is considered a legal motor fuel.  Many engine manufacturers only allow biodiesel from a BQ-9000 accredited producer to maintain warranties, which Thumb BioEnergy is an accredited producer.

Can biodiesel be used in any diesel engine?

Biodiesel blends of up to 20 percent work in any diesel engine with no modifications to the engine or the fuel system.  Biodiesel has a cleansing effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel usage.  The release of deposits may end up in fuel filters initially, so fuel filters should be checked more frequently at first.  Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification (D 6751) is used.

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils.  Will this increase food prices?

Biodiesel actually benefits the world’s protein supply. Processing biodiesel from soybeans uses only the oil portion of the soybean, leaving all of the protein available to nourish livestock and humans. By creating a new market for soybean oil, we increase the availability of protein-rich meal for human and livestock consumption. The increased meal supply results in a more cost effective food and feed source.  According to the United Soybean Board, biodiesel demand adds 63 cents of value to every bushel of soybeans and lowers the price of soybean meal by $21 per ton!

Can biodiesel be used in cold weather?

When properly managed, high quality biodiesel blends can function in the coldest of climates.  Minnesota mandates B5 in the winter months and has been very successful.  Thumb BioEnergy  produces Grade 1-B biodiesel and has had great success in running B20 in its fleet during the winter.  B10 should be perfectly safe during Michigan winters.

My fuel filters started plugging when I started using biodiesel.  Why is this happening?

Petroleum diesel tends to leave deposits in fuel tanks and fuel systems.  Since biodiesel is a cleaning agent, it will break free these deposits and get caught in the fuel filter.  Regular filter changing schedules typically do not need to be more frequent when switching to a biodiesel blend, but if they keep occurring, try switching to a lower biodiesel blend (i.e. B5) before moving up to higher blends (B20).  Once the fuel system is cleaned out, you should be able to revert back to your old filter changing schedule.

Where can I get Thumb Premium Biodiesel?

Thumb BioEnergy is a manufacturer of biodiesel, not a distributor.  Click here for a list of distributors that carry Thumb Premium Biodiesel and be sure the ask for blend.  We appreciate your supporting our mission to provide a sustainable, cleaner burning fuel for future generations and for supporting the local economy and agriculture!