Star Oilco’s Commitment to Sustainability
What is biodiesel? Is it the same as raw vegetable oil?
Biodiesel is a cleaner burning diesel fuel made from vegetable oil. Simply stated, a biodiesel molecule is a vegetable oil molecule with the glycerol removed. Chemically, biodiesel is defined as a mono-alkylester of vegetable oil.
Biodiesel is NOT the same as raw vegetable oil or straight vegetable oil (SVO). Diesel engines actually can operate on straight vegetable oil (SVO) as a fuel. In fact, Rudolf Diesel’s first compression ignition (Diesel) engine introduced in 1895 used peanut oil as its fuel. Modern diesel equipment, however, requires some modification to burn straight vegetable oil, and it is yet unclear the effects of straight vegetable oil on diesel engine performance and longevity.
Will biodiesel void my engine warranty?
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Original Engine Manufactures (OEM) provide a material and workmanship warranty on their products. Such warranties do not cover damage caused by external conditions, such as fuel. Thus, if an engine using biodiesel experiences a failure unrelated to the biodiesel use, it MUST be covered by the OEM’s warranty. Federal law prohibits the voiding of a warranty just because biodiesel was used – it has to be the cause of the failure. If an engine experiences a failure caused by biodiesel (or any other external condition, such as bad diesel fuel), it will not be covered by the OEM’s warranty.”
Star Oilco distributes only commercially produced biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751-03 specification – a demanding fuel testing regimen that guarantees the fuel will perform properly in your engine.
Biodiesel is considered an additive in blends less than 6% (B5). Petroleum diesel with 5% biodiesel added still meets ASTM specifications for #2 petroleum diesel fuel. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and numerous states and federal fleets, including all branches of the U.S. Military, have performed more than 40 million miles of road testing on B20. The results of which have only been positive.
Fleets such as Yellowstone National Park and the City of Berkeley (CA) Solid Waste Management Division have had great success running diesel vehicles on pur biodiesel (B100).
Does biodiesel cost more than petroleum diesel?
Yes. The current retail price for on road B99 is $3.25 per gallon (Spring 2017). Our customers pay a premium for biodiesel to support domestic energy sources and because of environmental concerns. Many biodiesel users experience a lower maintenance cost when they use biodiesel.
Can I use Oregon produced biodiesel?
Yes! In fact, the biodiesel you purchase through Star Oilco is produced right here in Oregon! Sequential Biofuels opened their first plant in Salem, OR in July 2005. This plant will produce 1 million gallons of biodiesel annually from waste vegetable oil. Oil sources include the Salem Kettle Chips plant. Country singer Willie Nelson is an investor in the effort.
Does biodiesel provide similar miles per gallon, torque, and horsepower?
In terms of energy contained in the fuel, a gallon of biodiesel contains slightly less energy than a gallon of petroleum diesel. For example, B20 tends to reduce fuel economy by approximately 1%. B20 users rarely report changes in torque or power. With B100, torque, power and fuel economy can be reduced by approximately 8%. However, the increased lubricity of biodiesel may help to counteract this energy difference. Some drivers report better performance with biodiesel, but most do not notice any difference.
Can I switch back and forth between diesel and biodiesel?
Yes! Biodiesel is the ultimate flexible fuel, so you can switch back and forth between biodiesel and petroleum diesel whenever necessary. Also, you can blend biodiesel with petroleum diesel in any percentage.
Is biodiesel safe to handle?
Yes! Biodiesel is ten times less toxic than table salt and biodegrades faster than sugar. The EPA has tested biodiesel’s health effects extensively and has classified it as a non-toxic substance that poses absolutely no threat to human health. Biodiesel is such a clean fuel that it is used to remediate petroleum spills in water.
Can I use biodiesel in an oil furnace (to heat my home)?
Yes! Biodiesel can be used in any diesel application. Oil #2 is the primary heating oil sold in the U.S. It is essentially the same as the diesel sold at gas stations, but contains much more of the pollutant sulfur. Sulfur contributes to acid rain formation, as well as the creation of nitrous oxides and particulate matter, both of which have serious air quality and human health impacts.
Biodiesel is just as warm as regular heating oil, but will help keep both the furnace and the air cleaner. It reduces the oily smell of the liquid fuel and makes the exhaust coming from the chimney smell better – a little like French fries. Pure biodiesel is biodegradable, and it is far less toxic than diesel. With a higher flash point, it is also less of a fire hazard. Biodiesel reduces emissions of cancer-causing compounds by up to 50%, and emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and hydrocarbons by approximately 20%.
Do I have to modify my furnace to use biodiesel?
No. B20 requires no modification to your heating system. However, biodiesel is a solvent, and will actually clean heating oil tanks and all fuel-wetted parts of a furnace. Because of this, users may experience clogging of the furnace fuel filter early on. Fuel filters are cheap and easy to replace, and the problem will end once the system is cleaned out.
If your heating oil tank is outside and insulated, Star Oilco will only deliver B20 home heating oil due t to the winter gelling risk of pure biodiesel. If your heating oil tank is located underground or inside, Star Oilco will deliver B20 or B99. B99 orders are a special dispatch so please understand that they may take a week or two to set up the delivery.
Can biodiesel replace petroleum diesel?
For most of the 20th century, petroleum diesel has been consumed as though it would last forever. Experts disagree about how much petroleum is left and how long it will last. They do agree, however, that less new oil will be found and that prices will increase. Because biodiesel is “home-grown”, it provides energy security. Biodiesel can be produced on a yearly cycle, instead of a 10-million-year-cycle. While we can not displace all petroleum with renewable fuels, it is one important piece of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.