Biodiesel can be used in any existing diesel engine, but the engine warranty should be checked in order to make sure that blends higher than B20 won't void it. Also, biodiesel has a very high lubricity and acts as a solvent that can release residue and deposits from the tank walls and pipes. Filters should be checked and replaced more frequently when transitioning from petroleum diesel to biodiesel. (Source).
For vehicles operating in cold environments, where temperatures dip below 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit, high level blends of biodiesel (B100) are prone to gelling due to the higher freezing point of the fuel as compared to conventional diesel fuel. In general, the lower the biodiesel level in the blend, the better it performs in cold environments like Colorado, and blends of B20 or lower are used very effectively here. This ensures the operator is still utilizing the benefits of biodiesel with little concern fuel gelling. (Source).
Biodiesel can be made from any fat or oil, like soybean oil, that then goes through an extensive refining process. The refining process is required to transition the oil into fuel-grade biodiesel that is safe for use in vehicles according to the quality specifications outlined in ASTM D6751. These specifications are designed to ensure proper operation in diesel engines and have to be met in order to qualify as a legal vehicle fuel. Operating raw oils, like leftover restaurant grease, without the proper refining process can significantly damage your engine and is not recommended. (Source ).
Biodiesel has a number of benefits that make it a great alternative to diesel, and many vehicle fleets and general consumers use the fuel on a regular basis. Biodiesel, even when blended at levels of 20%, has significantly fewer emissions that makes it cleaner to operate, so fleets who are required to comply with emissions regulations from the government or from company policies use biodiesel to meet compliance. Also, since biodiesel can be used in existing engines and doesn't require special infrastructure, making the transition is much easier than other diesel alternatives like natural gas and propane. Vehicle fleets and the general public that are concerned with air pollution and want to harness a domestically produced fuel are the target audience for biodiesel.
The higher the blend, the better the emissions, and since the World Health Organization declared diesel emissions a human carcinogen known to cause lung cancer, reducing those emissions is very important (Source). When compared to petroleum diesel, pure biodiesel (B100) can reduce particulate matter and carbon monoxide emissions by around 50% hydrocarbons by almost 70%, but even in lower level blends like B20 there are emissions improvements of 10-20% as well (Source).
There are biodiesel stations throughout the entire country and in Colorado. Use the Alternative Fuel Data Center to locate the station nearest you.
Biodiesel is non-toxic in its pure form, but it is often blended with petroleum diesel which is toxic. Biodiesel is much safer to clean in the case of a spill, and it has a much higher flash point (266 degrees Fahrenheit for biodiesel and as low as 126 degrees Fahrenheit for petroleum diesel). The higher flash points means it is harder to ignite in the case of an accident.