Powerful reasons to celebrate National Biodiesel Day March 18

By Ron Kotrba | March 16, 2018

While the biodiesel industry is celebrated by many people every day of the year for its creation of jobs, support of farmers, use of byproducts and waste for clean energy, and the important role the fuel plays in helping the environment, March 18 is special.

March 18 is, of course, Rudolf Diesel’s birthday, and it is no coincidence that National Biodiesel Day shares the same date. Rudolf Diesel invented the compression-ignition engine that bears his name more than 120 years ago, and he ran early models of the motor on peanut oil.

According to Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, modern clean diesel cars average about 30 percent better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts.

Biodiesel adds much-needed lubricity to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel and, according to new research at the University of Rostock in Germany, biodiesel helps reduce deposit formation in the fuel injectors of today’s high pressure common rail fuel systems. As biodiesel concentration in the fuel increases, the deposit formation thickness decreases.

The U.S. market for biodiesel and renewable diesel last year was 2.6 billion gallons, second only to the record year of 2016 when the market consumed 2.9 billion gallons. Last year, domestic producers manufactured about 1.8 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, down slightly from the prior year’s record-breaking 1.9 billion gallons.  

The U.S. biodiesel industry, with manufacturing facilities across the nation, supports 64,000 jobs, $11.42 billion in economic impact, and $2.54 billion in wages paid.

“The production of this advanced biofuel yields 5.5 times more energy than it takes to produce it,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

In Iowa alone, a prominent biodiesel-producing state, biodiesel supports the equivalent of more than 3,000 full-time jobs annually in all sectors of the economy, according to ABF Economics. Iowa’s 12 biodiesel plants produced more than 300 million gallons last year.

“Our biodiesel plants use a lot of Iowa-grown soybeans,” Kimberley said. “No matter how you look at biodiesel, it’s good for Iowa—it keeps our economy moving, it’s a home-grown fuel, and it’s environmentally friendly.”

About 3.5 percent of the U.S.’s total diesel fuel pool is biodiesel, helping lessen dependence on global oil markets and foreign crude.

Biodiesel reduces particulate matter by 47 percent, hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent and life-cycle greenhouse gases by 86 percent. 

Thus, when the efficiencies of the diesel engine are coupled with the environmental, emissions, performance, energy security, job-creation and other benefits of biodiesel, this marks a win-win for the economy, farmers, drivers and the planet. Is it any wonder we celebrate National Biodiesel Day on Rudolf Diesel’s birthday?

“Being a part of this industry has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Gene Gebolys, president and CEO of World Energy, told Biodiesel Magazine. “While many of us compete with each other in the market every day, our quest is a collective one. This industry is filled with the most determined, committed and passionate people I have ever encountered anywhere. We share a collective sense that what we do is important. We understand that we wake up to powerful headwinds every morning. For those of us still driving this industry forward, though, we are just made more resolute by the challenges. Only a fool would bet against this group. We are just getting started in the work we are doing to fuel America with cleaner, domestically produced fuels.”

The U.S. trade association representing the biodiesel industry, the National Biodiesel Board, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and to commemorate National Biodiesel Day, the organization has come up with 25 Fantastic Facts about biodiesel. 

“Having National Biodiesel Day on the calendar helps shine a spotlight on the industry that does so much to support jobs, clean air and American innovation,” Jessica Robinson, communications director for NBB, told Biodiesel Magazine. “Just like any anniversary or birthday, it’s a day to celebrate where we’ve come and what’s in store. Having a coordinated day where all corners of the industry share their story amplifies our voice. There are so many great stories in the biodiesel world, and having an annual day to celebrate provides the perfect platform for sharing those stories.”


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