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7 Common Misconceptions About Biodiesel

Biodiesel and biofuel are buzzwords that pop up pretty frequently in conversations about sustainability and the future of energy. In general, biodiesel refers to fuel that is produced from ethanol, created from a blend of oils that typically come from vegetable matter. Although fossil fuels are widely regarded as a finite resource, there is an immense multinational infrastructure surrounding the oil industry that simply doesn't exist for biofuel. As a result, there are a great deal of misconceptions that exist about biofuel and quite a bit of legitimate controversy, as well. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about biofuel.

1. Biodiesel preserves the environment

This one works kind of in two ways – supporters of biodiesel says that it has an overall positive effect on the environment, while people who aren't in favor of it say that biodiesel contributes more to the destruction of the environment rather than its preservation. They're both right, and they're both wrong. It's true that biodiesel is good for the environment, in that it isn't a contaminant or pollutant. It's also true that agricultural methods that produce biofuel are not especially efficient or environmentally friendly. The takeaway point people should have, is that more research and infrastructure are needed to realize the potential of biofuel. Alone, it isn't a magic bullet that will solve the world's energy problems, nor, is it the hero that Gotham deserves.

2. Biodiesel is the solution to the fossil fuel footprint

There's no such thing as a permanent record, right? Wrong. Not only does someone know what you did in your principal's office during the second grade, your fossil fuel footprint never actually goes away. Expecting to save the environment in a single decisive swoop by switching to biodiesel is, unfortunately, not the way things work. This is especially true if you drive a gas-guzzling SUV. The truth is, it is one action that can help reduce the fossil fuel footprint, which should be complemented by others.

3. Biodiesel has a high cost of production

People are opposed to the development claim that biodiesel has a high production cost. This is true, but the more accurate way of phrasing it, is that the process for refining bio-diesel is very inefficient, mostly because it's a production system that hasn't had very long to mature. This is kind of like expecting a high school freshman to produce a graduate-level dissertation.

4. Biodiesel has caused water and food crises

Critics of biodiesel have suggested that it is responsible for worldwide food and water crises. While there has been a global rise in food prices in the past fifteen years, correlation is, tragically, not causation (if only we lived in a world so simple) and the rising cost of food and water has to do with a myriad of other issues.

5. Soy-based diesel is better than other diesel

Soy based diesel the most common, but that's about all that can be said. There's not much difference in quality between the produce materials for bio-diesel, as long as it contains the requisite oil makeup and is processed correctly.

6. Biodiesel results in lower fuel economy

Because the process that makes it is inefficient, biodiesel must be too, right? That's how logic works, isn't it? Not really. And, in fact, there have been several studies that show biofuel reduces emissions in specifically targeted ways.

7. Biodiesel has a short shelf life'

The shelf life of biodiesel is more or less comparable to regular petroleum-based diesel, which is about six months. You can ruin biodiesel by storing it in an improperly sealed container that can get too much moisture inside of it, which will additionally shorten the shelf life.

Now when someone brings up a supposed “fact” about biodiesel, you can clear up these common misconceptions on the subject.