Common Misconceptions About Biodiesel Dispelled.

David Quilty

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April 30, 2008

Posting will be light this week as I will be away for most of the week, so please bear with me. Thanks!

This is from, a website dedicated to discussing the future of fuel. This is just a very quick synopsis of only the first 5 myths, but for the entire article (and it’s a great one – 23 Myths in all!), click on over to

MYTH #1: Biodiesel and ethanol are the same thing.

FACT: This is the most commonly held misconception about these two fuels, but ethanol and biodiesel are, in fact, completely different. Ethanol is the product of fermentation (think: SUGAR), and biodiesel is chemically-converted fat or oil.

MYTH #2: Ethanol is better than biodiesel (or vice versa).

FACT: If you read the news, you probably think biofuels are generally bad, with corn-grain ethanol being the worst of the bunch. But as usual, generalizations fail here, since every biofuel is unique in terms of manufacturing process and environmental impacts.

MYTH #3: Biodiesel (and other biofuels) are a total waste of time; they’ll never solve anything. This is a big one that I hear quite often.

FACT: This is a totally bogus argument. Here’s why: there isn’t a solution for our petroleum addiction. If you dismiss biofuels as a fantasy-land panacea, you’re right, because it’s going to take a combination of improved fuel economy, massive reinvestment in public transportation, new technology, new fuel sources like non-food based biofuels and electricity, and other factors to move us into transportation 2.0.

MYTH #4: You must convert your vehicle to run biodiesel.

FACT: Let me describe the conversion process: Drive to the nearest biodiesel pump, put the spout in the side of the car, and pump the biodiesel into your fuel tank (provided it’s a diesel). That’s it. You can use biodiesel in almost any diesel engine without modification. In fact, if you own a diesel vehicle you can probably fill it up today with 100% biodiesel (B100) and should experience no problems whatsoever. Someday, I plan on doing this with a truck.

MYTH #5: You have to be a diesel mechanic to use biodiesel.

FACT: No, all you have to do fill up with a different fuel, just like switching between regular and premium. The ”˜conversions’ mentioned above are easy, take minimal mechanical skill (being able to use a screwdriver), and shouldn’t take more than an hour. When I bought my first diesel, I’d never even changed the oil in a car, and I haven’t used petro-diesel since.

If this is the type of thing you are interested in (I know I am!), please go read the entire article and all 23 myths at Some of them were eye-openers for me!


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  1. From a technological point of view, biodiesel seems great. But given that it competes with food production, I can”™t really endorse it or support it. As the poster above me said, we”™re in the middle of a world wide food crisis, and feeding food to engines does not compute.

    Biodiesel could have been great at the times of the Green Revolution when food was cheap. Right now, adopting biofuels would mean starving hundreds of millions to death in the third world, in order to keep first world engines running.

    Specially, since we have other alternatives such as hydrogen. There are ways to generate hydrogen all over the world, for a true democratization of energy production and consumption, without displacing other imprescindible activities such as farming.

  2. I agree Julian- it is so not the solution. Buri am hoping it does get people thinking that oil is not the only way to power our lives. Thanks for your thoughts on this issue!

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