Biofuels are renewable fuels made from various plant materials, collectively known as “biomass”. These fuels can be blended with petroleum fuels or used alone, and are cleaner-burning than pure gasoline and diesel fuel. Examples of biofuels include ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, and renewable natural gas.
Also check out Incentives and Funding for each of the biofuels below.
Current ethanol production is primarily from the starch in kernels of field corn.
Ethanol is a renewable, alcohol-based alternative fuel produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops that have been converted into simple sugars. Feedstocks for this fuel include corn, barley, and wheat. Ethanol can also be produced from cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, and is known as bioethanol. Ethanol is commonly used to increase octane ratings and improve the emissions quality of gasoline, such as in the common blend E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline). More than 98% of gasoline sold in the U.S. contains some ethanol.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reduced between 34% and 108%, dependent upon the type of feedstock used, through ethanol’s life cycle when compared to gasoline and diesel. Emissions reductions credited to ethanol are due to the capture of carbon dioxide that occurs when the feedstock crops are grown, which offsets the emissions created during combustion.
Ethanol Alternative Fuels
E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and blends containing even higher concentrations of ethanol such as E95, qualify as alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct). Vehicles that run on E85 are called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) and are offered by several vehicle manufacturers.
E85 is an alternative fuel available in the Tulsa area. Check out E85 stations near you using the Station Locator below!
Currently, U.S. biodiesel is primarily produced using oil from soybeans such as these or from recycled restaurant cooking oil.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be made from any fat or oil, including vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. Biodiesel is typically blended with petroleum diesel and is a cleaner-burning alternative to petroleum diesel alone. Biodiesel can be used in diesel vehicles or any equipment that operates on diesel fuel such as cars, trucks, tractors, boats, and even electrical generators, without any alteration to the diesel engine.
To produce biodiesel, feedstock material is chemically reacted with an alcohol (usually methanol) in the presence of a catalyst, like lye, producing glycerin and the biodiesel fuel.
AFDC on Biodiesel – the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center page on biodiesel fuel
FuelEconomy.gov – the U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel economy information on biodiesel
National Biodiesel Board – the national trade association representing biodiesel
Biodiesel.org – the National Biodiesel Board’s site on biodiesel fuel and their initiatives pertaining to it
Renewable diesel is another biomass-derived fuel suitable for diesel engines. Renewable diesel functions identically to petroleum diesel and can be put directly into an engine, unlike biodiesel which is blended with petroleum diesel. Renewable diesel offers benefits of lower carbon emissions and reduced maintenance costs.
Renewable diesel can be produced using biomass waste or residue through a variety of processes including gasification, hydrotreating, pyrolysis, and other biochemical and thermochemical technologies.
Renewable Natural Gas
Renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane, is a vehicle fuel produced from organic materials—such as waste from landfills and livestock—through anaerobic digestion and is considered an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Because RNG is chemically identical to fossil-derived conventional natural gas, it is a pipeline quality fuel that can be channeled directly through existing natural gas infrastructure and can be compressed or liquified for use as vehicle fuel.