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The facts about biodiesel; In association with Environment Agency.

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from the oil of crops including oilseed rape, sunflowers and soybeans, as well as from waste cooking oils. It can be used in diesel engines, mixed with diesel derived from fossil fuels, and in some engines designed to be run exclusively on biodiesel, but these are few and far between. Diesel is sold as EN 590, which can contain a blend of 5% biodiesel and 95% ultra-low sulphur diesel. Biodiesel is available in blends up to 100% from a limited number of manufacturers.

From April 15, all diesel and petrol sold on the forecourt will have to contain 2.5% biofuels. You do not need to adapt your engine to run on it.

What are the environmental benefits of using biodiesel?

Biodiesel benefits the environment because the crops used to make biodiesel take in carbon dioxide when they grow, biodiesel is considered a renewable fuel. It gives a 60% reduction in CO2, well to wheel.

Because it is highly biodegradable, biodiesel does not accumulate and pollute soil and waterways if it is spilt.

One small negative is that oxides of nitrogen, a smog-forming gas, are slightly higher in biodiesel than with ultra-low sulphur diesel.

How much does it cost to run a vehicle on biodiesel?

Until recently, biodiesel (fuel standard EN 14214) has not been an economically viable alternative, because good quality biodiesel tends to cost more than regular diesel to produce. However, in July 2002, to compensate for these additional costs and to encourage the production and use of this fuel, the Government reduced the tax on biodiesel by 20p per litre. As a result, biodiesel pump prices are now roughly the same as standard diesel.

What else do I need to know about biodiesel?

When used in 5% blends with conventional diesel, biodiesel behaves almost identically to conventional diesel. All motor manufacturers warrant their vehicles to run on the fuel. In fact, some studies have found the lubricating properties of biodiesel can make engines run more smoothly.

Consumers should be wary of using any fuel that does not conform to the recognised standard for biodiesel EN 14214, and meet the current diesel specification EN590 (maximum 5% biodiesel blend), as this may compromise the warranty of their vehicle. In particular, using 100% biodiesel can create problems with engine performance, unless your vehicle has been modified to use this fuel.

All vehicle manufacturers warranty their vehicles to run on EN590 which can incorporate a 5% blend.

Some manufacturers approve higher blends (up to 30%), however speak with your vehicle manufacturer first.

More details from the Energy Saving Trust at
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2008
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