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