Frequently Asked Questions

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is the name of a clean-burning alternative fuel produced from plant oils or animal fats. The scientific name is fatty acid methyl ester (FAME).

Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in any compression-ignition (diesel) engine without the need for modifications.

Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and available here in Asheville, NC via Blue Ridge Biofuels. Biodiesel is rapidly gaining acceptance around the world, due in large part to its many health and environmental benefits when compared to regular diesel.

Biodiesel is not to be confused with burning pure vegetable oil in a diesel engine. This practice is known as SVO (straight vegetable oil) and does require modifications to the engine. There are also risks to your engine’s longevity by using SVO if it is not done correctly. Biodiesel is chemically modified vegetable oil that has characteristics superior to vegetable oil when used in diesel engines.

Can I use biodiesel in my existing diesel engine?

Yes! Any diesel engine can operate on Biodiesel with no modification to the engine. Older vehicles often must have their fuel lines changed from natural rubber to synthetic rubber hoses.

Using B20 (a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel) requires no precautions before use. If you want to use a blend higher than B20, such as B99.9, you will need to be aware of a few precautions before proceeding. B100 is compatible will ALL diesel engines as long a few precautions are taken.

Does using biodiesel void my warranty?

No. Read your actual warranty (not the propaganda the manufacturer or local dealer puts out).
Manufacturer’s warranties cover parts and workmanship regardless of the type of fuel you choose to use. If you put bad fuel, whether petro-diesel or biodiesel, in your vehicle and it blows the engine up, no manufacturer’s warranty will cover the repair. This is why using only high-quality fuel that conforms to ASTM International quality standards (D975 for petro-diesel and D6751 for biodiesel) is important. The Magnusson-Moss Act (Title 15, Chapter 50 of the US Code) is the letter of the law. Hopefully, you won’t need any strategies for disputing unlawful warranty denials.

How long can I store biodiesel?

Depends on how you are storing it. Keep it dark. Keep it at constant temperatures. Keep the water out of it. Keep your tank full to prevent condensation. Keep your tank capped to prevent moisture-laden air from entering the tank. Under these conditions, it’s good for a year. Under typical conditions, it’s good for at least 6 months. Keep in mind that petroleum diesel fuel’s shelf life is not much longer than that of biodiesel. You can add an anti-oxidant diesel stabilizer found at any auto parts store if you want to make sure you don’t get any bacteria in your tank.

Can biodiesel help slow "global warming"?

A 1998 biodiesel lifecycle study, jointly sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture, concluded biodiesel reduces net CO2 emissions by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel when methyl alcohol is used as a feedstock. Biodiesel produced from biomass-derived ethyl alcohol can have close to a 100% net carbon emission reduction compared to petroleum fuels. This is due to biodiesel’s closed carbon cycle. The CO2 released into the atmosphere when biodiesel is burned is recycled by growing plants, which are later processed into fuel.

Is biodiesel classified as a hazardous material?

100% biodiesel is not a hazardous material. The more petroleum in the blend, the more hazardous it is. Typically blends below B90 are considered hazardous.

Does biodiesel burn cleaner?

Yes. It contains no sulfur and is carbon neutral. Nearly every pollutant category is reduced compared with petroleum diesel.

How do biodiesel's emissions compare to petro-diesel?

Overall emissions reductions are around 70% as compared to petro-diesel emissions. Biodiesel Emissions Compared To Conventional Diesel,
Percent Reductions:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) -42.7%
Hydrocarbons -56.3%
Particulate Matter -55.3%
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) + or -10%
Mutagenicity -80-90%
Air Toxins -60-90%
Sulfates -100%

Does biodiesel really produce more NOx than petroleum diesel?

Studies vary. Some laboratory research indicates slight increases in NOx by running biodiesel. Others find NOx neutral. Some claim that in “real-world driving conditions,” NOx is decreased.

Does spilled biodiesel harm the environment?

Possibly. Anything in concentration can damage the environment. It is non-toxic and biodegradable and it will generally degrade in the soil within 30 days from the time it spills, but the bottom line is: Don’t spill it. Keep it stored properly, handle it properly, and keep it out of “the environment.”

Can biodiesel explode or catch on fire?

Biodiesel will not explode in nearly all storage conditions. According to the Fire Prevention Code (Chapter 34, Section 3402) it is a Class IIIB combustible liquid, not flammable. It’s difficult to get pure biodiesel in a cup to ignite using a blowtorch.

Are there tax credits available for biodiesel?

A tax credit is available to registered blenders who mix at least 0.01% diesel into the biodiesel product. It amounts to $1.00/gal off the company’s excise tax liability. There are also North Carolina income tax credits available for installation of renewable fuel equipment or biodiesel production equipment. To learn more visit the alternative fuels data center.

Will I get the same power from biodiesel as petroleum diesel?

Yes… possibly It’s more due to its superior cetane rating. Biodiesel does contain 5% fewer BTUs per gallon than petroleum diesel but burns more completely than petroleum diesel. Therefore, you get more energy from the fuel with less pollution. Partially burned fuel creates waste and more air pollution.

Is cold weather a problem for higher blends?

Yes. The B99.9 will begin to gel around freezing (between 32-36° F) and will clog fuel filters between 22-28° F. Gelled fuel melts when warmed. Fuel rarely gels while the engine running and circulating fuel through the system. Cold morning start-ups are generally the only time that gelling becomes an issue.

There are three important actions you can take to continue using biodiesel in temperatures below freezing: add heat, add petroleum, or add a winterizing additive. The easiest cold weather solutions for western NC seems to be a B60 blend (60% biodiesel/40% petro-diesel) or B70 with an anti-gel in the fuel.

Blue Ridge Biofuels ONLY sells “winterized” fuel during the winter months that is appropriate for the climate in western North Carolina. This means we take care of gelling for you!

Where are you located?

The Blue Ridge Biofuels’s office and production facility is located at 109 Roberts St. in Asheville’s River Arts District. Please call (828) 253-1034 and make an appointment before visiting.

How much is your biodiesel?

Blue Ridge Biofuels has some of the lowest-priced biodiesel in the US. Our biodiesel is generally close to the cost of conventional petroleum and is typically 0-10 cents more per gallon. Each of our stations to which we supply fuel is independently owned and operated and each station has its own mark up. Therefore, we do not control the price at the stations’ pumps.

How can I be sure that BRB makes quality fuel?

All fuel sold by Blue Ridge Biofuels is certified to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) quality specifications known as ASTM D 6751. We currently do not have the in-house equipment to do a full ASTM analysis on our B100. We send our production samples to a third-party certified laboratory for analysis work. Since selling the first drop of biodiesel to the public in July of 2005, we have not had any fuel quality issues to date. If you ever suspect that there is a fuel quality problem with any biodiesel bought from us, please notify us immediately so that we can troubleshoot the situation.

Why do biodiesel producers have to be NBB Members?

They have a monopoly on the Literature Review and Human Health Effects Data that is required by the EPA to register your fuel. Access to the data, to stay legal with the EPA, comes from having an NBB membership.