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Biodiesel in the United States

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Biodiesel in the United States

Biodiesel is commercially available in most oilseed-producing states in the United States. As of 2005, it is more expensive than petroleum-diesel, though it is still commonly produced in relatively small quantities (in comparison to petroleum products and ethanol fuel).

Due to increasing pollution control, climate change requirements, and tax incentives, the U.S. market is expected to grow to upwards of 2 billion US gallons (7.6×10^6 m3) by 2010.

The total U.S. production capacity for biodiesel reached 2.24 billion US gallons per year (8.5×10^6 m3/a) in 2007, although poor market conditions held 2007 production to about 450 million US gallons (1.7×10^6 m3), according to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).[1]

In 2004, almost 30 million US gallons (110×10^3 m3) of commercially produced biodiesel were sold in the U.S., up from less than 100 thousand US gallons (380 m3) in 1998.

Feedstock development

A pilot project in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is producing fish oil biodiesel from the local fish processing industry in conjunction with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It is rarely economic to ship the fish oil elsewhere and Alaskan communities are heavily dependent on diesel power generation. The Alaskan Energy Authority factories project 8 million US gallons (30×10^3 m3) of fish oil annually.[2]

A doctoral student at Utah State University has initiated a program called FreeWays to Fuel, which is growing oilseed crops in previously unused municipal land such as highway rights of way. The student, Dallas Hanks, estimates that in the U.S., 10 million acres (40,000 km2) of such unused land exists—land which generally serves no other purpose and currently costs tax dollars to maintain. Early yields from the crops are promising, and the program has spread to other land-grant universities across the nation.[3]


Imperium Renewables in Washington has the largest biodiesel production facility in the US, capable of making 100 million US gallons per year (380×10^3 m3/a).[4]

In 2006, Fuel Bio Opened the largest biodiesel manufacturing plant on the east coast of the United States in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Fuel Bio's operation is capable of producing a name plate capacity of 50 million US gallons per year (190×10^3 m3/a) of biodiesel.[5]

In 2008, ASTM published new Biodiesel Blend Specifications.[6]


In 2005, U.S. entertainer Willie Nelson was selling B20 Biodiesel in four states under the name BioWillie. By late 2005 it was available at 13 gas stations and truck stops (mainly in Texas). Most purchasers were truck drivers. It was also used to fuel the buses and trucks for Mr. Nelson's tours as well as his personal automobiles.[7]

On October 16, 2006, the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan announced an agreement with local Western Michigan University's biodiesel R & D program to use the biodiesel research to build a 100 thousand US gallons per year (380 m3/a) production system at the city wastewater treatment plant, and convert the city bus system to run entirely off of the fuel. Its use of "trap grease" from the waste tanks of restaurants around the city may be the first of its kind in the US.[8]


Tax credits

As of 2003, some tax credits were available in the U.S. for using biodiesel.

By state

Biodiesel retailers can be found in all states but Alaska, though all may not offer high percentage blends or B100.[9]


Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a bill on May 12, 2008, that will require all diesel fuel sold in the state for use in internal compression engines to contain at least 20% biodiesel by May 1, 2015.[10]

In March 2002, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill which mandated that all diesel sold in the state must contain at least 2% biodiesel. The requirement took effect on June 30, 2005, and was the first biodiesel mandate in the US.[11]

Washington State

In March 2006, Washington became the second state to pass a 2% biodiesel mandate, with a start-date set for December 1, 2008.[12][13]

See also


  1. ^ "U.S. Biodiesel Production Capacity". National Biodiesel Board (NBB). 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  2. ^ "Fish Oil & Biodiesel in the Park (brochure)". Alaska Energy Authority. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  3. ^ Passey, Brian (2010-05-10). "Student's idea turns roadsides into biodiesel cash cropland". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  4. ^ "Imperium Renewables opens 100 MMgy facility". Biodiesel Magazine. 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ National Biodiesel Board Press Release 10/14/08
  7. ^ Danny Hakim (2005-12-30). "Beyond Gasoline - His Car Smelling Like French Fries, Willie Nelson Sells Biodiesel". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  8. ^ "WMU News - Bronco Biodiesel will fuel Kalamazoo buses". Western Michigan University - Office of University Relations. 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  9. ^ " - Retail Fueling Sites". National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  10. ^ "Minnesota Passes Statewide B20 Mandate - Fuel quality and alternative feedstocks fostered in legislation". National Biodiesel Board (NBB). 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  11. ^ "New Rules Project - Agriculture - Biodiesel Mandate - Minnesota". New Rules Project. 2005. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  12. ^ "SB 6508 - 2005-06 Developing minimum renewable fuel content requirements and fuel quality standards in an alternative fuels market.". Washington State Legislature. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  13. ^ "Washington Legislature Adopts Biodiesel, Ethanol Mandate". 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 

External links

  • Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels, United Nations Environment Programme, October 2009
  • World Bank, Biofuels: The Promise and the Risks. World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development
  • National Biodiesel Conference
  • Barack Obama Kicks Off Official Campaign with Biodiesel Plant Tour.
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