A mid record-high fuel prices, the once hard-to-find biodiesel is finally earning a full-time spot at the pump. No place is that truer than in Minnesota, where historic biodiesel legislation was implemented in late September 2005. The legislation requires that all diesel fuel in the state contain at least a 2% blend of biodiesel, also known as B2.
Minnesota is presently the only state with a biodiesel requirement, but other states are expected to follow suit.
Benefits of biodiesel include improved air quality, ease of use in existing diesel engines with no modifications and the fact that it is made from a homegrown, renewable resource — soybeans.
Coast to coast, biodiesel's momentum is building as more retail pumps — now nearly 500 — are selling biodiesel blends. The proof is in the numbers, as the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) estimates biodiesel production for 2005 reached 75 million gallons — 50 million gallons more than last year.
Driving the success of biodiesel's acceptance are educational efforts designed to promote this renewable fuel and to draw attention to biodiesel's boost to the ag economy and the environment.
The Iowa Soybean Association hosted one such celebration at the Krueger BP Amoco near Grimes, IA, in mid-November. During a special three-hour promotion, all soy biodiesel was reduced 10¢/gal., thanks to the sponsorship of the Polk County Farm Bureau. Staff from both organizations greeted motorists, answered questions about soy biodiesel and gave away free T-shirts, beverage coolers and bumper stickers during the event.
In Nebraska, the “Take Soy Biodiesel To School” program is in its second year of tapping FFA chapters to help educate their local school districts about biodiesel benefits.
SPONSORED BY THE Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and under the direction of Governor Dave Heineman, FFA chapters that can convince their school districts to start using 20% soy biodiesel in their school bus fleet will be rewarded with a $250 donation. Through the program, schools that participate will be reimbursed any cost difference between standard diesel fuel and B-20 biodiesel by the state.
Additional support for biodiesel comes from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which has endorsed use of a 5% blend of biodiesel (B5) as part of the trucking industry's move toward cleaner, renewable fuel. Among truckers, the increased use of B5 biodiesel can also be attributed to endorsements by most major diesel engine manufacturers including Detroit Diesel, Caterpillar and Cummins, who have said B5 can be used in their diesel engines as long as the B5 blend meets the American Society for Testing and Materials D-6751 biodiesel standard.
To encourage further biodiesel use, the soybean checkoff-funded NBB has launched www.biotrucker.com. The site offers the latest information regarding biodiesel availability, technical information and trucker testimonials.
Another application for soy biodiesel isn't on the highway, but on the water at marinas where boaters are filling their tanks with cleaner burning soy-based biodiesel.
This past summer in Delaware, the Indian River Marina celebrated being the first marina in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer soy biodiesel fuel to government and commercial marine fleets, as well as private boat owners. The marina is part of Delaware Seashore State Park, which made the biodiesel conversion through funds from the Delaware Soybean Board and the United Soybean Board.
In addition to soy biodiesel at the marina fuel pump, soy-based lubricants, degreasers and paint strippers are available for retail sale in the boat shop. The soy-based products offer a nontoxic, readily biodegradable choice for marine users and they are easier for boaters to handle and store.