Study: Biodiesel Benefits Under-Valued for Years

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY BIODIESEL.ORG ON AUGUST 30, 2017

A new academic paper published in Biotechnology for Biofuels shows biodiesel’s benefits are even better than previous models suggested. Updated modeling from Purdue University suggests the advantage of using biodiesel has been underestimated by 10 percent.

“This latest research verifies biodiesel is an ideal option to support American-made energy and renewable fuels,” said Don Scott, National Biodiesel Board Director of Sustainability. “The more accurate the models become, the more clearly they show biodiesel’s benefits.”

Research has long supported the benefits of biodiesel in reducing wastes, supporting domestic jobs, and reducing harmful emissions. With all these proven advantages, the remaining question has become: How much biodiesel can we make and maintain each of these benefits? For nearly a decade, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and a handful of scientific institutions have been trying to determine how major biofuel policies might impact land use around the world.

EPA and CARB have used computer models to predict this additional production in response to the economic signal from biofuels. If there are carbon emissions associated with creating new farmland, EPA and CARB follow this theory to add those estimated carbon emissions to the lifecycle of biofuels. This conservative approach ensures no unintended ill-effects from biofuel production. Purdue University’s latest research shows these measures underestimate the carbon benefit of biodiesel by 10 percent.

“Biodiesel is already recognized as the commercial biofuel with the lowest net GHG emissions. The power in these new findings is that science is improving. The prediction of economic impacts and land use change is becoming more reliable. More data has been analyzed today than has ever been available in the past. The data shows that farmers all around the world are becoming more efficient. We are feeding better food to more people, and we are doing it using less land,” Scott said. “This is great news, because agriculture is our most powerful tool to turn solar energy and carbon dioxide into things like food and biodiesel. Biodiesel is a powerful driver to create jobs and help our environment. As these models look more and more like the real world, biodiesel’s extensive real-world benefits come into focus.”

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry.

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