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Published on February 25th, 2008 | by Clayton

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6 Ways To Find And Use Biodiesel Anywhere (Part I)

Biofuel Gas PumpLooking to find a source of biodiesel? Perhaps you followed my previous post, 7 Steps To Buying A Diesel, or maybe you already have a vehicle and feel it’s time to boycott OPEC oil. Either way, this guide will help you figure out how to get from A to B exclusively on biodiesel. Part II (options 4-6) of this post can be found here.

Remember that biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine (warranty issues aside) without modification. The only conversion necessary is where you decide to fill up, and that’s what this guide is intended to supplement. One caveat: be advised that biodiesel use can be tricky in cold weather, and depending on location and season you may have to drop to a 50% or even 20% biodiesel blend (more on that later). Without further ado:

1. At Home: Find Biodiesel At Retail Gas Stations

nbb-fuel-map.jpg

Without your knowledge, a local retail station may already have converted one of their pumps to some blend of biodiesel. The most common blend is B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% diesel), but don’t be surprised to see “biodiesel stations” with a lowly 5% blend (B5). (Stations now commonly offer B5 to confer lubricity lost by the introduction of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel – ULSD.)

If you’re lucky, you may even find a B100 pump nearby, but there are other ways to get pure (aka neat) biodiesel (see below). You can find a list of retail biodiesel stations at both the National Biodiesel Board’s website, and NearBio.com:

2. On The Road: Route-Map Retail Biodiesel

mapquestaltfuel

While it’s great to have a biodiesel pump in your area, what about hitting the road? Since the biodiesel conversion doesn’t really change your engine, you can always revert to regular diesel fuel, although no one wants to do that after making a commitment to eschew petroleum.

Fortunately, both Mapquest and Google Maps now show biodiesel stations on route maps. Get directions and plan your route based on the availability of biodiesel.

Take a look at the following resources (and see Max’s earlier post):

If you’ve got a cell-phone with internet capacity or a Blackberry, you can access these resources from anywhere. But for those of us without such advanced technology, there’s another emergency option:

3. Emergencies: Find Biodiesel On You Cell

nearbiocellsml

If you get stuck in B.F.E. without fuel or internet, you’ve got one more option. NearBio.com will actually text message you the coordinates of the nearest biodiesel station. Check it out:

Of course, this does require cell-phone reception. See Part II of this guide for another emergency option.

The Catch To Biodiesel On The Road: CardLocks

For each of the biodiesel stations listed in the resources above, you’ll notice the hours of operation and accessibility, along with the blend of biodiesel the station sells. Many biodiesel suppliers have card-operated biodiesel pumps that can’t be accessed by wandering travelers, unless you plan on sending them an application beforehand.

I don’t know of a good way around this, unless you hit these pumps during business hours and someone can help you out. It’s probably a good idea to give the station a call before showing up with an empty tank. If all else fails, just make sure to plan your route around manned pumping stations.

Next: Part II, More Options For Finding Biodiesel At Home…(options 4-6)

Related Posts:

Biodiesel Mythbuster 2.0: Twenty-Two Biodiesel Myths Dispelled

Germans Release 117 MPG Diesel Sportscar: Biodiesel, Anyone?

What Will Your Next Used Car Be?

The Growing Need for Fuel Substitution, Efficiency, and Conservation


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About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.



  • http://www.meganpru.com Megan

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but not all diesel engines are bio-diesel ready. Older engines need to have some of the natural rubber engine parts replaced (such as seals) with new vitron (not sure how to spell that) ones. Biodiesel can erode natural rubber. Thankfully, most newer engines have no reason to worry, but if you’re like me and have an affinity for old VWs, you may want to check…

  • http://www.meganpru.com Megan

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but not all diesel engines are bio-diesel ready. Older engines need to have some of the natural rubber engine parts replaced (such as seals) with new vitron (not sure how to spell that) ones. Biodiesel can erode natural rubber. Thankfully, most newer engines have no reason to worry, but if you’re like me and have an affinity for old VWs, you may want to check…

  • Andris

    Very interesting and helpful blog. You are my favorite source of biofuel alternatives.

  • Andris

    Very interesting and helpful blog. You are my favorite source of biofuel alternatives.

  • http://gas2.org Clayton B. Cornell

    Megan,

    Thanks for the comment.

    What I mean by “biodiesel ready” is that you can drive any car with a diesel engine to a biodiesel gas pump, fill it up, and drive on biodiesel without doing anything to the engine.

    You´re right about biodiesel´s capability to disolve rubber-since it´s such a good solvent-and some vehicles may require a modicum of extra consideration for long term high-blend biodiesel use(older vehicles,I think pre-1996?). Most of the cars I´ve had experience with need no modification. Also: B20 biodiesel will not eat rubber so you don´t have to worry about low-biodiesel blends.

    For example, I drove my 1982 Datsun 720 Pickup on 100% biodiesel for 2 years without changing out the fuel lines, and that truck probably had 6 feet of rubber fuel lines between the tank and the engine. I didn´t worry about it, since it would only take about 15 minutes and a screwdriver to swap them out.

    I plan on covering this in more detail later on, with some pictures and a bit more explanation (just in case anyone was confused). :)

  • http://gas2.org Clayton B. Cornell

    Megan,

    Thanks for the comment.

    What I mean by “biodiesel ready” is that you can drive any car with a diesel engine to a biodiesel gas pump, fill it up, and drive on biodiesel without doing anything to the engine.

    You´re right about biodiesel´s capability to disolve rubber-since it´s such a good solvent-and some vehicles may require a modicum of extra consideration for long term high-blend biodiesel use(older vehicles,I think pre-1996?). Most of the cars I´ve had experience with need no modification. Also: B20 biodiesel will not eat rubber so you don´t have to worry about low-biodiesel blends.

    For example, I drove my 1982 Datsun 720 Pickup on 100% biodiesel for 2 years without changing out the fuel lines, and that truck probably had 6 feet of rubber fuel lines between the tank and the engine. I didn´t worry about it, since it would only take about 15 minutes and a screwdriver to swap them out.

    I plan on covering this in more detail later on, with some pictures and a bit more explanation (just in case anyone was confused). :)

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  • http://stryder.com Ross MacDonald

    My 1981 MBZ 300TD and 1973 Peugeot 504D have each gone several thousand miles on 90% to 100% biofuel without replacing [rubber] fuel hoses. The fuel filter will probably need to be replaced sometime soon after changing from petro to bio-diesel. And as for the discourse about “freezing”, I started the MBZ this winter at 25 degrees fahrenheit by adding a mere 5% ratio of petro-diesel, and then pouring hot water on visible fuel elements in the engine compartment. Note, petro-diesel added “on top” of a full tank of biodiesel makes it’s way to the bottom quickly, and into the fuel lines.

  • http://stryder.com Ross MacDonald

    My 1981 MBZ 300TD and 1973 Peugeot 504D have each gone several thousand miles on 90% to 100% biofuel without replacing [rubber] fuel hoses. The fuel filter will probably need to be replaced sometime soon after changing from petro to bio-diesel. And as for the discourse about “freezing”, I started the MBZ this winter at 25 degrees fahrenheit by adding a mere 5% ratio of petro-diesel, and then pouring hot water on visible fuel elements in the engine compartment. Note, petro-diesel added “on top” of a full tank of biodiesel makes it’s way to the bottom quickly, and into the fuel lines.

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  • Karl Bonn

    I really enjoyed your Biodiesel Mythbuster 2.0. I have a 2003 VW Beetle TDI and have been using Biodiesel since new. However, biodiesel in this area (WA) is $4.80+ per gallon. I have to drive 40 miles, and cross a toll bridge, to get it. Regular Diesel is running about $4.00 per gallon. It is becoming an economic issue as I am retired and cannot afford to fill with biodiesel every time. I think we, the consumer, should get a federal income tax break for using biodiesel. That would offset the price difference somewhat and I think more diesel vehicle owners would consider using biodiesel.

  • Karl Bonn

    I really enjoyed your Biodiesel Mythbuster 2.0. I have a 2003 VW Beetle TDI and have been using Biodiesel since new. However, biodiesel in this area (WA) is $4.80+ per gallon. I have to drive 40 miles, and cross a toll bridge, to get it. Regular Diesel is running about $4.00 per gallon. It is becoming an economic issue as I am retired and cannot afford to fill with biodiesel every time. I think we, the consumer, should get a federal income tax break for using biodiesel. That would offset the price difference somewhat and I think more diesel vehicle owners would consider using biodiesel.

    • http://VW2003TDI Doug

      Hi. I’m thinking of buying a friend’s 2003 TDI beetle. Diesel has come down some in price since 3 years ago – did you have to make any modifications with your engine to run the bio-diesel fuel? I’m really wanting to buy this car only if it can run safely on biodiesel – any opinions?

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  • Carol

    I have a boat with Detroit Diesels. I wonder if it would work for that? It may help get it away from the dock more at that price.

  • Carol

    I have a boat with Detroit Diesels. I wonder if it would work for that? It may help get it away from the dock more at that price.

  • BJ

    I would buy a CNG car tomorrow if refueling was available in the area. How long will it take suppliers to get on the band wagen. Supply is the key.

  • BJ

    I would buy a CNG car tomorrow if refueling was available in the area. How long will it take suppliers to get on the band wagen. Supply is the key.

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  • http://Web Kenny

    To make biodiesel, you need to perform combustion. Polluting the air. http://www.duke.edu/web/nicholas/bio217/jss22/

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