Great Lakes Ag Energy is active in the Wisconsin and Upper Midwest renewable liquid fuels marketplace. Our participation includes our own biomass deconstruction research, customer special projects, and consulting to the biomass-to-renewable energy industry. To learn more please read About Us.
We serve on several boards including the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association (WBA), Green Diesel Wisconsin Foundation (GDWF), Prairie Fire Biofuels Cooperative (PFBF), and a handful of private companies. Among our pro-bono special projects are the Wisconsin Small-scale Biofuels Producer Program, as advisor and administrator for GDWF and the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence.
Biodiesel is a clean-burning, ester-based alternative fuel
produced from domestic, renewable resources such as soy oil, canola
oil, recycled restaurant fryer grease
or animal tallow.
Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be either blended in any ratio with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend (such as "B20", a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petrodiesel) or be used in its pure form (B100). It can be used in any diesel engine with no major modifications--cars, buses, trucks, construction equipment, boats, generators, or oil home heating units. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
What are the benefits?
1) National security. Since it's made
domestically, it helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Click here
to read the National Biodiesel Board paper regarding biodiesel and
2) National economy. Using biodiesel keeps our fuel buying dollars at home instead of sending it to foreign countries. This reduces our trade deficit and creates jobs.
3) It's sustainable & safe. Since biodiesel can be made from domestically grown crops or waste oil products, it's 100% renewable. The fuel is nontoxic and has a high flashpoint of about 125°C--compare that to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 55°C. Tests sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture confirm that biodiesel is ten times less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as dextrose (a test sugar).
4) Emissions. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. The use of biodiesel results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are essentialy eliminated compared to diesel.
Of the major exhaust pollutants, both unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides are ozone or smog forming precursors. The use of biodiesel results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons. Based on engine testing, using the most stringent emissions testing protocols required by EPA for certification of fuels or fuel additives in the U.S., the overall ozone (smog) forming potential of the hydrocarbon exhaust emissions from biodiesel is nearly 50 percent less than that measured fr diesel fuel.
5) Engine life. Studies have reported that using biodiesel can reduce engine wear by as much as one half, primarily because it provides excellent lubricity. Even blending as little as a 2% biodiesel into petroleum diesel has shown exceptional lubricity benefits.
6) Drivability. We have yet to meet anyone who doesn't notice an immediate smoothing of the engine with biodiesel. It just runs quieter, and produces less smoke.
A few things to watch out for when first using biodiesel:
1) Biodiesel works great at cleaning out your injectors and fuel lines. If you've been running thousands of miles on regular petro diesel, there is a chance that your first tank or two of biodiesel could free up all the accumulated deposits from "dirty" fuel and clog your fuel filter. Be ready for a filter replacement!
2) Biodiesel has a higher gel point than regular diesel. B100 (100%
biodiesel) gets slushy just under 32°F. But B20 (20% biodiesel,
regular diesel - more commonly available than B100) has a gel point of
-15°F. These gel points are lowered even further when our Clean
Green winterized biodiesel is used (available beginning November).
3) Since biodiesel can deteriorate certain types of rubber, older vehicles (pre mid-90s) may require upgrades of fuel lines to a biodiesel-compatible material (such as Viton). This is usually an inexpensive, easy upgrade. Almost all new vehicles should have no problem using biodiesel.
The National Biodiesel Board website - www.biodiesel.org
2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines - downloadable PDF