August 18, 2006
A Biodesiel Enthusiast
PDXBiodiesel is a biodiesel enthusiast / advocate who has been using biodiesel in two late model vehicles for more than 60,000 combined miles. He is a web developer and has lived in Portland since 1998 and enjoys being active in the community, and its online presence.
Portland has been a hotbed of biodiesel activism, and we have for a few years had a substantial Biodiesel market. We are lucky to have several companies providing biodiesel with retail availibility. But until recently, the locations of their public pumps were difficult to find, and there was no one convenient location listing all the pumps. Anyone interested in buying biodiesel had to first find out who the retailers were, and then contact them to find out their pump locations.
In an effort to make it easier to find retail Biodiesel pumps, I created PDXBiodiesel.org, which is a Google Maps mashup of the retail pump locations in the Portland metro area. It contains all of the retailers and pumps that sell to individuals without requiring bulk sales or delivery.
Biodiesel is made from vegitable oil. Most commonly in the United States it is made from soy, however it can be made from Canola, Rapeseed, and even recycled deep fryer or cooking oil. Biodiesel is simply diesel fuel that is made from a vegitable base instead of a petroleum base, and Biodiesel can be used in almost every diesel powered vehicle with no modifications - and in any blend, up to 100% Biodiesel!
Biodiesel burns significantly cleaner, quiets your engine, reduces soot, and produces significantly fewer lifecycle CO2 emmissions than regular petroleum based diesel. Currently the bulk of the biodiesel in Oregon is made from recycled vegitable oil, and Oregon farmers are working on growing Canola based biodiesel stocks as rotational crops. Several production facilities are being built in the Northwest, making Biodiesel largely a locally produced fuel with significant environmental benefits. Biodiesel is just one peice in the puzzle of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
There are some considerations you will want to make if you are planning on using biodiesel in your diesel vehicle. For more information there are links to other sites with many details and the forums at Biodieselnow.com are great for getting questions answered or further discussion. I recommend reading and being informed before you make _any_ decision, and Biodiesel use is no different.
Guest Column at 7:03 AM
August 18, 2006 11:43 AM
Actually, Sequential already seems to have a google map of their biodiesel pump locations here:
-don't forget their grand opening of their new Eugene pump, near Lane Community College, is next Wednesday. Their building will be the most sustainable in the city, and it should be a huge press event!
no, I don't work for them.
August 18, 2006 12:36 PM
Sequential's map only provides the locations of SeQuential's pumps.
PDXBiodiesel.org provides the locations of SeQuential's pumps, as well as Carson Oil's pumps, BlueSky Fuel's pumps, and Sun Break Biofuels pumps.
Additionally, as more companies and pumps come online, PDXBiodiesel.org will map them.
Nothing against SeQuential and their map is cool - but it is a map to THEIR pumps... :)
August 18, 2006 3:05 PM
That's pretty awesome that something smart (Biodiesal) is moving along even when the Feds are pushing for dumb solutions like Ethanol. I'm stoked to see more and more people using it.
Now if only it was worth putting in sports cars. :(
August 18, 2006 3:35 PM
Paul Edgar Says:
There are a few question that I have on Biodiesel that someone should be able to answer.
In the manufacturing/refining process of Biodiesel how much energy products are used to create a gallon or barrel of this fuel.
As an example are they using natural gas or coal to heat the raw mixture.
How much electricity is used to create this gallon or barrel of biodiesel fuel.
What is the total fuel of some type used to transport the raw products through the whole supply chain process before it is ready for market.
In the long haul this canola seed oil can be a winner for the State of Oregon. However it has to come through the system and to be in a position to be marketed and priced competitively and that means to me within 10% of market price of petroleum based diesel fuel.
Not everyone understands all of the reasons this product is good for the United States, our environment and the people.
It is just worth a lot money to me not to have to give American Dollars to countries who might end up using these dollars to kill us and our system.
August 19, 2006 9:05 AM
Of course there are mamny different ways to make biodiesel. Well actually, not many different ways - but different techniques or processes I guess.
Some will be more energy efficient than others.
Biodiesel has a much higher energy yeild than ethanol, and biodiesel made from higher yeild oils is better. Biodiesel made from soy is the least efficient. Canola or rapeseed have a higher yeild - and algae has (so far) the highest yeild. Additionally making biodiesel from waste cooking oil is VERY efficient as the energy has already been expended to make the cooking oil - the biodiesel is then a second use product.
As far as the energy used in the actual biodiesel conversion process - that varies by producer. Some will use gas some will use electric. Some are working on solar and others use the biodiesel itself for heat fuel...
For example, Sun Break Biofuels is working on a new 250,000 gallon facility in Canby, according to their website:
"The new facility will utilize power generation with waste vegetable oil and an advanced waste heat recovery system. We plan to rebuild our solar array six times larger than before with over 20kW of power output capacity. We invite you to come down to learn more about our ideas for power generation, solar photovoltaics, and radiant heating."
As far as fuel consumption for transport of the fuel and whatnot, well - that is probably a wash. One thing that people often overlook is that petroleum itself has to be extracted and transported and refined. So energy is consumed before the gasoline or diesel even gets to our tanks. The same holds true with biofuels - energy is consumed in the production of the fuel.
The important thing to understand is that biofuels are a SMALL PART of a winning strategy. We cannot do it ALL with biofuels. But every gallon we buy that is made in the USA and made Locally in the Northwest - the closer we are to energy independence.
Biodiesel is the most energy efficient of the biofuels. Both in it's production (it has a higher energy yeild than ethanol, and can be made in smaller more local facilities) and in its use (diesel vehicles are more efficient than gasoline vehicles, biodiesel has more BTUs than ethanol, and biodiesel requires no special equipment to use, transport, or store).
Currently the retail price of 100% Biodiesel is within 10 to 15 cents of petroleum diesel.
There is much more detailed information out there available with a simple google search, than I can elaborate on here.
Just remember to not listen to the fanatical extremes of either side of the issue. Biodiesel is *not* perfect and is *not* the solution to the world's energy problems. However biodiesel *is* a net energy gain, and we *can* use way way more biodiesel without disrupting any food supply and biodiesel is *much* better than petroleum diesel in every way.
Biofuels will never displace all of our petroleum use. But they are a step in the right direction.
August 19, 2006 11:52 AM
Paul Edgar Says:
What PDX-Biodiesel has to say has a lot of oommon sense to it. Biodiesel is reasonable and in our market driven world and it is more then a fit in Oregon.
August 19, 2006 1:57 PM
Yea, for sports cars and high end performance vehicles, we'll probably need very high grade biodiesel for them to operate properly... and get all thsoe filter issues finally laid to rest, as they can (and do) destroy the fuel pumps in vehicles if you aren't vigilant in replacing the filters.
I heard that Audi is now racing diesel race cars:
Considering that approx 50% of European passenger cars are now diesel - even Ford makes diesel hatchbacks Ford Focus in Europe.
Here's a few interesting links regarding diesels I just bumped across:
Very interesting alt fuels blog site:
ie mini diesel passenger cars: http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/?p=990
August 19, 2006 2:03 PM
Another nice thing with Biodiesel is that its not toxic and inflammable - its a pretty inert substance unless (like diesel) its subjected to very high heat/pressure. For storage/transportation of it, thats great news - much safer for people and the environment.
Apparently, it is possible to even survive drinking the stuff - though it will flush your system like a bad episode of prune juice. XP
August 19, 2006 2:59 PM
"Currently the retail price of 100% Biodiesel is within 10 to 15 cents of petroleum diesel."
Is that with or without the subsidies the Feds & States keep tossing around? I ask seriously - not trying to be a smart ass or anything.
I wonder because I'd seriously hate for the Feds/State to attempt to ween us from regular Petro by subsidizing alternative fuels like Biodiesal... it's just one step closer to thowing in some whacky imbalance that regular people will have to make up for just like when the built the interstates, cut up AT&T, and all those other interventions.
The market tends to be far wiser than congress (& general politicians all over) and in the end always has to make up for their manipulations and inadequacy.
August 19, 2006 3:00 PM
"Apparently, it is possible to even survive drinking the stuff - though it will flush your system like a bad episode of prune juice. XP"
Sounds like a serious night of drinking. hmmmm, it's not the same stuff is it? :o
August 19, 2006 9:35 PM
Well, its basically vegetable oil sans the glycerin...
And Adron, don't forget that oil companies get massive subsidies to them, in the form of federally funded oil wars, extremely cheap oil/mineral extraction land rights, etc.
August 21, 2006 4:02 PM
The price is with tax credits given to blenders, so yes - with subsidies.
However, it is worth noting, that petroleum fuels are highly subsidized. The largest petroleum companies this recent budget cycle were given billions of dollars in tax credits, and our government pays for (and protects) pipelines and shipping lines.
So there really is no way around subsidies in some form - they are a part of life.
Sad but true. (Although subsidies can be a good thing if applied correctly - its just that doesn't often happen I would imagine).