What is the difference between renewable diesel, biodiesel, and clean diesel?

These fuels and technologies may sound very similar, but they are quite different in how they are created, produced, perform, and are used in application. Learn about the similarities and differences between these three diesel fuel alternatives.

Renewable Diesel
gasoline-175122_1920Renewable Diesel is also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) or second-generation biofuel. It is made primarily from biomass waste and residues, often the same feedstocks as biodiesel. It is created by one of three primary methods: hydrotreating, thermal conversion or biomass-to-liquid. During the production process the impurities are removed from the raw materials and hydrotreated at a high temperature. The final product has an identical chemical composition with fossil diesel fuel.

It can be used in high concentrations and as a standalone product in all diesel engines. No modifications are required to use renewable diesel and it can be used right away.

This fuel is made for cold conditions, and since its properties are identical to high-quality fossil diesel fuel, vehicles are safe using this fuel even at winter’s coldest temperatures. Users may need to treat the fuel with an additive to address lubricity issues associated with no oxygen in the fuel, much like petrodiesel.

The use of renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions, particulates, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide emissions.

soy-beans-968986_1920Biodiesel is also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME). It is made primarily from vegetable oils or fats, such as soybean oil, algae and chicken fat, as well as waste vegetable oil (WVO). Those oils and fats go through a process called transesterification to purify the materials into biodiesel. The fuel contains oxygen, which leads to it having different lubrication performance properties than renewable diesel and petrodiesel.

Biodiesel can be used in diesel engines blended with diesel fuel. Currently most vehicle manufacturers have approved a 20% blend of biodiesel (B20) in the USA, and the blends vary country to country and even state to state. No modifications are required to use biodiesel and it can be used right away.

The cloud point for biodiesel will depend on the feedstock used to create the product. Feedstocks, like soybeans, are a great option for winter cold flow operability, also mixed with a cold flow additive, like you would use in traditional diesel fuel works great.

Biodiesel reduces CO2 emissions, hydrocarbons (HC) and CO emissions. You’ll also notice lower visible smoke, low sulfur content and improved lubricity. Since it is non-toxic and biodegradable it is much easier to clean-up should there be a spill.

Clean Diesel
engine-1713398_1920Clean diesel is the new generation of diesel technology. It includes a three-part system: Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel or a clean alternative fuel (like biodiesel or renewable diesel), Highly efficient diesel engine, and advanced emissions controls. So, it is not only an inclusion of a cleaner fuel but also the vehicle technology used in tandem to create the cleanest diesel vehicle.

Industry leaders are releasing new and improved versions of clean diesel vehicles with the three part system. Another popular reason people are switching to clean diesel is the cost savings. A chart from clearlybetterdiesel.org outlines how much a driver can save annually living in Pennsylvania through their fuel purchases and more efficient driving style. Perform your own search to learn the savings you could experience in your state.

With its rise in popularity, publicity, and cost-savings, it’s no wonder that “clean diesel” and other alternative fuel options are buzzword these days. As people continue to explore new, more advanced fuel sources, these options are sure to continue making a splash in the alternative fuel world.



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