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Biodiesel Basics



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What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable, cleaner-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, it is categorized as an advanced biofuel.  

Blends up to 20 percent (B20) can be used in diesel engines with no modifications, with higher blends also possible, all the way up to B100 in some cases. Fuel must meet the national standard ASTM D-6751 to be called biodiesel.





Biodiesel has an energy content (BTUs) similar to that of No. 1 of diesel and offers the following performance benefits:

  • Significantly improved lubricity, which can reduce premature engine wear and tear
  • Higher average cetane than diesel
  • Similar fuel economy, horsepower, and torque

View more in the Department of Energy's Handling and Use Guide





Biodiesel is the first commercially available fuel to meet the EPA’s definition of an advanced biofuel. Based largely on greenhouse gas reductions, these requirements protect forests and native grasslands and ensure renewable fuels have multiple environmental benefits over fossil fuels. Biodiesel and renewable diesel reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% compared to petroleum diesel. Depending on the feedstock used, biodiesel and renewable diesel can reduce emissions by more than 80%.


Benefits, when compared to petroleum-based diesel fuel, include:

  • Reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by an average of 72 percent
  • Lowers particulate matter by 47 percent in older diesel engines, reduces smog and makes our air healthier to breathe
  • Reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent in older diesel engines

View more on sustainability from Clean Fuels Alliance America

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