The first part of this guide should give you some good resources for finding biodiesel at home and on the road. But don’t think you have to rely on retail biodiesel to get by. Homemade (aka “homebrew”) biodiesel may be available in your area, or you may be inclined to make your own.
While fuel quality obtained by this method can vary considerably, it’s still possible (even likely) to get fuel that meets national standards. That being said, you may have to get your hands dirty, and this will require a bit more research than finding a local biodiesel pump.
Options 1-3 of this guide are located here.
4. Biodiesel Coops: Discount Fuel At A Price
Another option for the intrepid is to join hands with other biodiesel enthusiasts and participate in making the fuel yourself. Biodiesel co-ops pool resources, equipment, and know-how, and may be the best way to learn to make biodiesel. While you don’t necessarily have to get your hands dirty to participate in a co-op, it can be satisfying work, builds community, and lies at the heart of the biodiesel movement.
Joining a co-op usually requires an initiation (not that type of initiation. Say, $40), and sometimes an annual fee. Co-ops tend to either make their own fuel or source it in bulk from a local supplier (the NBB also has biodiesel distributor maps). Either way, you usually end up with cheap fuel, (if you don’t over-value your time) on the order of around $1.50 per gallon. To find more information on your local biodiesel co-op, check out:
- Local Biodiesel Conference’s Co-op Index (State by State)
- Try Googling for “Biodiesel Co-op [State]”
You might also consider asking your local biodiesel retailer (see Part I of this guide to find one) if they know of local co-ops, or talk to the next person you see with a “Runs On Biodiesel” bumper-sticker.
5. Homebrewing: Make Your Own Biodiesel
But don’t take my word for it.
Much has been written on the topic, and while I’ll revisit the subject in more detail later, if you want to get out there and start making your own biodiesel, take a look at this book, which I consider the homebrew biodiesel bible:
It will also be worth your time to peruse the information available on the following sites:
- Journey to Forever: Make Your Own Biodiesel
- Collaborative Biodiesel Tutorial
- Wikipedia: Biodiesel
- Biodiesel Discussion Forums
Warning: not all biodiesel information is created equal. While forums can be extremely useful for collecting anecdotal (as well as experimental) evidence, they aren’t always entirely accurate. Use with discretion. Additionally, making biodiesel yourself can be dangerous. Make sure you do your homework.
6. Finally: Carry A Spare Tank of Biodiesel
One of my first trips after switching to biodiesel I loaded two 5-gallon containers of biodiesel into the back of my truck, determined not to use diesel on the 500-mile trip (I did, eventually). But depending on space and weight considerations (you’re looking at 40 lbs), an extra 5 gallons can make all the difference, especially when blending your own fuel in cold weather*.
If you end up at a station with no biodiesel and you have a long way to go, or you’re mixing biodiesel for cold weather, you can blend your own biodiesel (splash blend) by partly filling your tank with diesel and then adding biodiesel. Biodiesel is slightly denser then diesel, so make sure to add it first.
Five gallons of spare fuel in a diesel Jetta should get you something like 250 miles. If you’ve got a truck, you also have the option of acquiring a spare fuel tank for the bed (avg. 55 gallons), and loading up with spare biodiesel before you hit the road.
*For more information on biodiesel cold-weather issues, see the Biodiesel Mythbuster.
Conclusion: Energy Independence
So there you go, it’s not as hard as you thought to consistently use biodiesel, even while on the road. If you have more questions about the fuel, feel free to comment, or you can wait for the Biodiesel Mythbuster version 2.0 I’ll be publishing in the next month or so.
Still need a diesel vehicle? Jump back to Part I of the Biodiesel Guide: 7 Steps To Buying A Diesel.
Missed Part I of this post (Steps 1-3)? Click here.
The next part of this series will include myths and fact about biodiesel, warranty issues, and how to “convert” a diesel to run on biodiesel.