If you're buying biodiesel fuel, good for you. You're one of the early adapters of alternative fuel. But if you're doing it to promote your own industry, soybeans, maybe you ought to investigate the fuel you're burning a bit closer.
Jon Lantz of Countrymark Co-op, Indiana's leading promoter of soydiesel fuel, told soybean growers last week that not all fuels labeled as biodiesel contain only soybean oil as the alternate fuel in the mix. In fact, there are a wide range of alternative vegetable oils and even rendered animal lard, or recycled frying oil, that qualify as biodiesel. It's one of the reasons the industry elected to go with the term 'biodiesel' instead of soydiesel.
One of the most common practices is mixing the alternative portion of the biodiesel fuel 50-50 with palm oil, Lantz notes. Retailers that aren't as familiar with biodiesel may not recognize the need to make customers aware that there is something besides soybean fuel in the mix.
Countrymark uses only soy diesel in producing its blends, Lantz says. They believe that gives them the best quality products, and helps them maintain consistency of their fuel line-up.
If you're using the fuel, you may have some questions. Here are key questions Lantz addressed for farmers.
Question: What do all the numbers mean, B 1, B 2, etc.?
Lantz: They refer to the amount of biodiesel in the blend. For example, B1 contains 1% biodiesel. In our case, that's 1% soydiesel. B2 is 2%, B5 is 5%, B 20 is 20%. We also make B100, which is 100% biodiesel.
Question: Can you still buy 55- gallon drums of B100 and mix your own?
Lantz: Yes, we still sell drums and also containers holding about 250 gallons. You can buy it that way if you prefer. Since June, however, we now have the capability to send out pre-blended loads through our metering facility at Joliettville, Ind. It's the first of its kind, to our knowledge, in the country.
Question: Are there are tips for storing B100 on the farm?
Lantz: Yes, don't let it freeze. Store it under the same conditions that you ould store pesticides over winter. It's not ruined if it freezes, but it takes time and certain procedures for it to return to proper form.
Question: Is biodiesel a new concept?
Lantz: No, decades ago, Rudolph Diesel himself started out with vegetable oil fuel in his very first engine.
Question: Is soydiesel simply raw soybean oil?
Lantz: No, that's a misconception. Engines will burn on pure soybean oil, but not for long. The oil must be refined and processed into fuel before it can function properly as an alternative fuel.