Biodiesel Could Make Fossil Energy Last Four Times Longer

Biodiesel provides an immediate opportunity to conserve energy because every gallon of biodiesel fuel used in place of ordinary petroleum-based diesel fuel could extend non-renewable fossil energy reserves by four times, according to Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board.

Jobe cited a United States Department of Energy life-cycle analysis, which finds that biodiesel has a 3.2-to-1 energy balance, compared with 0.83-to-1 for petroleum diesel fuel.

Biodiesel, which is an alternative fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as soybean oil, was the focus of a half-day outreach session conducted by the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at its facility in Beltsville MD.

At the event, various biodiesel uses were demonstrated based on the ARS use at the Henry A Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The center not only uses biodiesel in its vehicles, but also as heating fuel in some buildings as well as to power various kinds of equipment such as generators and mowers. Also on hand were representatives of the US Department of Defense and a New Jersey school district, which have used the product successfully.

In conjunction with the event, US Secretary of Agriculture Ann M Veneman announced that she had signed a directive that ordered all USDA fuel tanks to be filled with biodiesel nationwide, where feasible.

Jobe and other participants in the outreach session emphasized that biodiesel not only reduces carbon dioxide emissions but is also recognized as reducing health hazards from diesel exhaust. It has diesel characteristics including high lubricity and high cetane, which leads to reduced maintenance cost and increased engine life.

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