Biodiesel as a domestic renewable fuel

Biodiesel production mandates have been released by the U.S. EPA for 2013.

Biodiesel is one of the renewable fuels included in the U.S. EPA’s 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA has called for 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel to be used in the United States in 2013. This amount is an increase over the 1.1 billion gallons produced in 2011. The RFS requires careful annual analysis by EPA to determine the exact amount based on current market, use and production factors.

Biodiesel is a replacement for petroleum diesel fuel that has similar energy content and some advantages including increased lubricity and lower exhaust emissions. Biodiesel can be made from recycled cooking oil, agricultural oils and animal fats. Current strong commodity prices have made economics challenging when using raw oils from crops such as soybeans and canola.

Due to significant interest among farmers and the public on the steps involved in making biodiesel, Michigan State University Extension has secured a mobile demonstration scale biodiesel system that is being used at sites across the state. This system includes an oilseed press, centrifuge for cleaning of raw oil, and a biodiesel processor. While this system is small scale, it does replicate the steps necessary to transform oilseeds into biodiesel.

The biodiesel system will be demonstrated by MSU Extension educators Mark Seamon and Dennis Pennington at the Bioenergy, Cover Crops and Corn Residue Management Field Day on Thursday, October 4, from 1 to 5 p.m. This field day will be held at the MSU Bioenergy Farm near Saint Johns, Mich., at 1600 North Scott Road. This is about 0.5 miles north of M-21 and 0.5 miles east of U.S.-27 (view map).

Biodiesel offers opportunities across a wide range, from small operators utilizing local used cooking oils to commercial operators producing millions of gallons per year. Regardless of the scale, most of the steps in production are consistent among processors. Whatever your interest, you may learn more about biodiesel production at the upcoming MSU field day. For more details, call the Clinton County MSU Extension office at 989-224-5240.

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