Biodiesel:                                            The Sustainability Dimensions    A Publication of ATTRA—National Sus...
phosphorous-availing crops with cash crops                          Biodiesel is vegetable oil that is permanently    can ...
degrees F. The cloud point can be lowered  The chemistry of biodiesel                         with winterizing additives f...
Ninety percent of the biodiesel virgin oil          However, the list of the top 30 plant species                        f...
Higher-yielding oil crops like saff lower,         available for succeeding years’ crops.mustards and sunf lower have sign...
State agricultural experiment stations, the     turn a profit? Many farmers and ranchers                            Coopera...
sons for biodiesel investors and advocates.      dropping by $19 to $45 per ton.” (Feed-Some planned biodiesel plants were...
Biodiesel that is sold, traded or otherwise       production. According to David Morris                      publicly dist...
resources to produce biodiesel on a farm.This conclusion has been verified by Mon-tana farmers who participated in a statew...
References                                                 Radich, Anthony. 2004. Biodiesel Performance, Costs,           ...
Feasibility of Biodiesel Cost Calculator     Biodiesel and Straight Vegetable Oil Kits   ...
Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions                  By Al Kurki, Amanda Hill and                  Mike Morris, NCAT ...
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  1. 1. Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions A Publication of ATTRA—National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgBy Al Kurki, Biodiesel is a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel. This publication surveys many dimensionsAmanda Hill and of biodiesel production and use. Net energy balance, sustainable bioenergy crops, scale of production,Mike Morris, NCAT consumer access and the economics of biodiesel are all critical when discussing a sustainable energyProgram Specialists future for this country. Above all, increased fuel efficiency and possibly increased diesel engine use in theUpdated by United States will be needed in order for biodiesel to become a significant part of our energy future.Amanda Lowe,NCAT Intern© 2010 NCATContentsIntroduction ..................... 1Background andcontext ............................... 2Qualities and quantitiesof biodiesel andbiodiesel feedstocks ..... 3Conclusion ........................ 9References ...................... 10Further resources ......... 10 Sunflowers. Photo courtesy of USDA ARS. Introduction dimensions include the net energy balance of biodiesel relative to other fuels and the B iodiesel offers well-publicized envi- link between raising bioenergy crops and ronmental, economic and national sustainable, soil-building practices. Other security benefits. Biodiesel combus- considerations include the qualities of dif- tion emits fewer regulated and non-regulated ferent biodiesel feedstocks and the econom- pollutants than petrodiesel. Further, biodie- ics of production and use. This publication sel is biodegradable and its lubricity extends also raises other issues, such as access, scale engine life. and ownership of production, co-prod-ATTRA—National Sustainable uct development and the extent to whichAgriculture Information Service Biodiesel could benefit farmers and rural( is managed biodiesel and other biofuels can effectively communities, depending on ownershipby the National Center for Appro- replace petroleum fuels.priate Technology (NCAT) and is of production facilities and the mix andfunded under a grant from theUnited States Department of marketability of useful co-products. Also, All dimensions of biodiesel productionAgriculture’s Rural Business- biodiesel could reduce dependence on for- and use are fundamentally intertwinedCooperative Service. Visit theNCAT Web site ( eign oil and corresponding f luctuations with each other and with the topic of envi-sarc_current.php) for in availability and price. Th is publication ronmental sustainability. To isolate andmore information onour sustainable agri- addresses the sustainability dimensions address any single aspect of biodiesel invitesculture projects. of biodiesel production and use. These reference to others.
  2. 2. phosphorous-availing crops with cash crops Biodiesel is vegetable oil that is permanently can save energy on the farm. Changing till- thinned through a chemical reaction of the oil, age methods or technologies and properly alcohol and a catalyst. scaling equipment to the farm operation can also save energy. These changes may be important precursors to the cost-effective Background and context production and use of biodiesel. The bigger picture The United States consumes transporta- Biodiesel as a transportation fuel tion fuels at an extremely high rate per Simply put, biodiesel is the product of mix- capita compared with other industrialized ing vegetable oil or animal fat with alcohol countries. In 2005, for example, 559 gal- (usually methanol or ethanol) and a catalyst, lons of petroleum transportation fuels were usually lye. Glycerin is the main by-product. expended for every man, woman and child Biodiesel performs very similarly to low- in this country, compared with 429 gal- sulfur petroleum-based diesel in terms of lons per capita in Canada, 184 gallons in power, torque and fuel efficiency, and does Germany and 182 gallons in Japan (Earth not require major engine modifications.Related ATTRA Trends, 2009).Publications Joshua Tickell, the author of several books Two major policy and practical changes on biodiesel, claims biodiesel contains aboutBiodiesel: Do-it-your- 12 percent less energy than petrodiesel must occur for biodiesel to have a real effectself Production Basics on this country’s energy future: (biodiesel has 37 megajoules per kilogramBiodiesel Use, versus petrodiesel at 42 megajoules per kilo-Handling and Fuel 1) A national commitment to energy gram). This difference is partially offset byQuality efficiency in every facet of American life. a 7-percent average increase in combustion This may include community redesign, broad efficiency of biodiesel. No overall perceivedBiodiesel Curriculum(from Piedmont changes in food production and delivery sys- decrease in performance is noted for mostBiofuels) tems, greater commitment to mass transit vehicles using biodiesel, even though, on and increased mileage efficiency for vehicles. average, there is 5 percent less torque, powerOilseed Processing for Reducing our fuel consumption would meanSmall-Scale Producers and fuel efficiency (Tickell, 2000). biofuels over time would make up a largerEfficient Agricultural portion of overall transportation fuel. Biodiesel is considered a safer fuel than pet-Buildings: An rodiesel. Biodiesel has a high flashpoint ofOverview 2) A massive conversion from gasoline- over 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees powered automobiles and light trucks to Celsius), compared to 125 degrees F (52Solar-Powered cleaner-burning diesel automobiles. Th isLivestock Watering degrees C) for petrodiesel. The flashpoint sort of change is not without precedent.Systems is the temperature at which a fuel’s vapor Farmers in the United States switched fromWind-powered can be ignited. Biodiesel also has a relatively gasoline to diesel-powered farm equipmentElectric Systems for high boiling point and is generally consid- in the late 1970s and 80s. This is an impor-Homes, Farms, and ered safer to handle. tant factor in agriculture’s big energy-useRanches: Resources reduction since the 1970s. Modern diesel fuels are injected into a highlySustainable Corn and compressed chamber where combustionSoybean Production Most farmers and ranchers operate on tight occurs without a spark plug. Biodiesel reacts margins. Capturing energy efficiencies and more rapidly in the chamber with less com- making the best use of biofuels may be bustion delay than most petrodiesel fuels and nearly impossible without retooling cur- is, therefore, assigned a higher cetane num- rent food production and distribution sys- ber. Cetane is the measure of ignition qual- tems. For example, when food is shipped ity. Many of biodiesel’s emission benefits stem over shorter distances, energy consumption from its high ignition quality (NBB, 2009). and freight costs are reduced. Creating local markets for locally grown foods can accom- Biodiesel can be produced from virtually any plish this. Rotating nitrogen-producing or kind of vegetable oil, new or used. The U.S.Page 2 ATTRA Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
  3. 3. degrees F. The cloud point can be lowered The chemistry of biodiesel with winterizing additives formulated for diesel Transesterification is the term used to describe fuels. Biodiesel blends such as B20 (20 percent the transformation of vegetable oil into biodiesel and 80 percent petrodiesel) typically biodiesel. Vegetable oil is made up of three require no action beyond that necessary for esters attached to a glycerin molecule; this is ordinary petrodiesel (Tickell, 2000). called a triglyceride. An ester is a hydrocarbon chain available to bond with another mole- The United States produces approximately 3- cule. During transesterification, the esters in 5 billion gallons of waste vegetable oil every vegetable oil are separated from the glycerin year in restaurants (Groschen). Much of molecule, resulting in the by-product glycerin. this product goes to landfills; some is used The esters then attach to alcohol molecules in the soap and cosmetics industry. Waste (either methanol or ethanol) to form biodiesel. cooking oil could meet only a small percent- In order to prompt the esters to break from the glycerin and bond with the alcohol, a cata- age of total U.S. diesel demand. Converting lyst (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydrox- this waste into a relatively low-cost resource, ide) must be used. The glycerin by-product however, reduces the environmental degra- can be further processed to make soap. dation and costs of disposal in landfills. A Free fatty acids (FFAs) are present in vegetable The quantity of biodiesel that can be pro- t cold oil when it has been used in cooking. When duced from crops is also limited. If rapeseed temperatures, free fatty acids are present, as in waste veg- were grown on every acre of cropland available etable oil, more base catalyst is required to diesel fuels in the United States in 2002, an estimated neutralize the FFAs, which renders the biodie- form wax crystals sel fit for use. (Adapted from Tickell, 2000) 36.3 billion gallons of oil could be produced — fairly close to current national demand that cloud the (Peterson). But it is not practical to use all product and affect available farmland to produce transportation fuel performance.Department of Energy estimates that about fuels. Moreover, very serious ethical issues are450 million gallons of biodiesel were sold in This temperature raised by sacrificing croplands for vehicle fuel2007. Total U.S. diesel consumption that threshold is called in a world where people are hungry and pop-year was more than 45.3 billion gallons. ulations are growing. For a discussion of the the cloud point. food versus fuel controversy, see the Web siteQualities and quantities biodiesel andbiodiesel feedstocksAt cold temperatures, diesel fuels form waxcrystals that cloud the product and affectfuel performance. This temperature thresh-old is called the cloud point, and occurs at 20degrees F (-7 degrees C) for most commonlyused grades of petrodiesel. Biodiesel fuelsgenerally have a cloud point between 25-60degrees F (4- 16 degrees C), depending onthe amount of FFAs in the product. Wastevegetable oil contains more FFAs than virginoils. FFAs raise the cloud point of the fuel,so biodiesel made from used cooking oil oranimal fat will cloud at higher temperaturesthan biodiesel made from new vegetableoil feedstock.The American Society for Testing and Mate-rials (ASTM) recommended in 1996 that Soybean oil is a common virgin feedstock for biodiesel.biodiesel have a cloud point of at most 38 Photo courtesy of USDA ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. Ninety percent of the biodiesel virgin oil However, the list of the top 30 plant species feedstock in the United States in 2001 was with the highest oil yield per acre for biodiesel from soybeans. There are many reasons why doesn’t even include soybeans. Of the more soybeans draw most of the market share as a common commodity-style crops that can be biodiesel feedstock. Soy is a versatile, nitro- raised for biofuels in this country, soy ranks gen-fi xing crop that yields oil and food for as only the eighth-best oil-yielding crop. humans and livestock. Soybean meal is of This may be good news for farmers who a higher market value than soy oil. Conse- don’t or can’t grow soybeans on their farms. quently, soy oil is a low-priced by-product Rapeseed (Brassica napus) rates as the high- available in relatively large volumes. est- yielding oil source in this country at 122 gallons an acre. Sunflower has the third-best Soybean production is subsidized by the fed- yield at 98 gallons an acre, followed by saf- eral government and benefits from subsidized flower (80 gallons an acre) at fourth and crop insurance plans. Currently, soy oil is a mustard rated seventh (59 gallons an acre). cheaper virgin feedstock than other oilseeds. Table 1 shows the oil yields in gallons per The processing and distribution infrastruc- acre. One gallon of oil equals 7.3 pounds ture for soybeans is already in place, with (USDOE, 2005). Please keep in mind as more capacity being added as more biodiesel you examine this table that the yields will production facilities come online. vary in different agroclimatic zones.Table 1: Oil producing crops (Adapted from Tickell, 2000) Gal Oil/ Gal Oil/ Plant Latin Name Plant Latin Name Acre AcreOil Palm Elaeis guineensis 610 Rice Oriza sativa L. 85Macauba Palm Acrocomia aculeata 461 Buffalo Gourd Cucurbita foetidissima 81Pequi Caryocar brasiliense 383 Safflower Carthamus tinctorius 80Buriti Palm Mauritia flexuosa 335 Crambe Crambe abyssinica 72Oiticia Licania rigida 307 Sesame Sesamum indicum 71Coconut Cocos nucifera 276 Camelina Camelina sativa 60Avocado Persea americana 270 Mustard Brassica alba 59Brazil Nut Bertholletia excelsa 245 Coriander Coriandrum sativum 55Macadamia Nut Macadamia terniflora 230 Pumpkin Seed Cucurbita pepo 55Jatropa Jatropha curcas 194 Euphorbia Euphorbia lagascae 54Babassu Palm Orbignya martiana 188 Hazelnut Corylus avellana 49Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis 186 Linseed Linum usitatissimum 49Pecan Carya illinoensis 183 Coffee Coffea arabica 47Bacuri Platonia insignis 146 Soybean Glycine max 46Castor Bean Ricinus communis 145 Hemp Cannabis sativa 37Gopher Plant Euphorbia lathyris 137 Cotton Gossypium hirsutum 33Piassava Attalea funifera 136 Calendula Calendula officinalis 31Olive Tree Olea europaea 124 Kenaf Hibiscus cannabinus L. 28Rapeseed Brassica napus 122 Rubber Seed Hevea brasiliensis 26Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum 119 Lupine Lupinus albus 24Peanut Ariachis hypogaea 109 Palm Erythea salvadorensis 23Cocoa Theobroma cacao 105 Oat Avena sativa 22Sunflower Helianthus annuus 98 Cashew Nut Anacardium occidentale 18Tung Oil Tree Aleurites fordii 96 Corn Zea mays 18Page 4 ATTRA Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
  5. 5. Higher-yielding oil crops like saff lower, available for succeeding years’ crops.mustards and sunf lower have significant Oil-yielding brassicas such as mustards,rotational benefits. For example, deep canola and rapeseed help reduce soil-safflower and sunflower roots help break borne diseases and pathogens. Table 2up hardpan and improve soil tilth. Canola shows the rotational benefits of certainand rapeseed can make soil nutrients oilseed crops.Table 2: Rotational benefits of oilseed crops. See the References section for sources. Yield (Gal Management Oil Seed Crop Oil/ Acre) Rotational Benefits PracticesRapeseed/Canola 122 Both are cool season crops. Attract hoverflies whose larvae prey Sclerotinia-susceptible. on aphids. Has value as green manure because it makes phos- Should not be grown phorus available for subsequent year’s crops and initial research within five years of shows it inhibits growth of small weed seeds. Can serve as a sunflower. nutrient catch crop. Provides weed control at high seeding rates. Canola is edible version of rapeseed; winter and spring varieties are available. Winter varieties are not as winter hardy as winter small grains (wheat, barley). Tap root breaks up hardpan. Good rotation crop, breaking cycles of weeds, disease and insect pests. Mellows soil.Peanut 109 Peanuts are often grown in rotation with other crops to replace soil nitrogen and decrease the need for synthetic fertilizers.Sunflower 98 Catch crop for nutrients, breaks up hardpan and compacted soil, Susceptible to sclero- may reduce fusarium when used in rotation with grain crops, tinia and should be can serve as a windbreak. Row-cropping provides opportunity grown once very five for mechanical weed control during growing season. years. Should not be raised in short rotations with crucifers.Safflower 80 Breaks up hardpan and compacted soil with its deep roots.Crambe 72 Cool season crop—similar to canola, but more disease resistant and is tolerant of flea beetle damage.Camelina 60 Cool season crop—a crucifer like canola, rape, mustard, and crambe. Has allelopathic effects and it is somewhat drought resistant. Is fairly weed competitive when winter or very early spring seeded.Mustard 59 Primarily a cool season crop. Nutrient catch crop. Has nemati- Sclerotinia-susceptible. cidal properties that reduce soil-borne pathogens. Can smother Should not be grown weeds and has allelopathic effects on weeds. within five years of sunflower.Flaxseed/Linseed 49 A good crop for interseeding or to sow following a competitive crop onto clean field. Not weed competitive on its own. It is a light feeder.Soy 46 Fixes nitrogen, although most of the nitrogen is removed with Poor choice for control- the bean harvest. ling erosion or building organic matter levels.Lupine 24 Moderate nitrogen fixer, takes up soil phosphorus—making it available for subsequent crops; reduces erosion and crop disease, deep taproots can open and aerate soil.Oat 22 Erosion control, enhances soil life, and adds organic matter. Serves as a catch crop and a nurse crop, can be used for weed control in rotations, crop residue reduces nitrogen ATTRA Page 5
  6. 6. State agricultural experiment stations, the turn a profit? Many farmers and ranchers Cooperative Extension Service or the Natu- are raising more diverse, higher-value food ral Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) crops and animals because they perceive that may have information on specific oilseed subsidized, bulk commodity production is crops that can be raised in certain locations economically unsustainable for them. This and the best rotations for soil-building and is a factor to consider in producing biofuel pest suppression benefits. Sustainable agri- crops as well. culture groups are often helpful, since they may have farmer members who have experi- The energy balance of biodiesel ence raising brassicas or other oilseed crops in rotation. Rotational benefits are also out- compared to ethanol and lined in other sources listed in the Further petroleum diesel resources section of this publication. Debates within scientific and policy circles center on the net energy balance of various The bulk commodity treadmill ethanol and biodiesel feedstocks. The energy balance is “a comparison of the energy stored Large plots of undifferentiated plant spe- in a fuel to the energy required to grow, cies grown on the same ground year after process and distribute that fuel” (Tickell, year or in very short rotations are known as 2000). In this publication we use the most monocultures. The negative environmental commonly quoted energy balance statistics aspects of monocultures are researched and available at press time. proven. The same aspects hold true for any oilseed crop considered for biodiesel. Mono- Biodiesel provides a positive energy balance, culture crop production can deplete the soil according to most sources. For every unit of organic matter and essential nutrients, of energy needed to produce biodiesel, 3.2 which can result in soil compaction, erosion units of energy are gained. Evidence suggests or downstream nutrient loading. Monocul- virgin oil from sources other than soy may tures also create more insect, pathogen and have even higher energy content. Overall, weed management challenges. biodiesel is said to have the highest energy yield of any liquid fuel. According to the Monocultures exhibit an economic dimen- Minnesota Department of Agriculture Web sion as well. At what point does any cash site (Groschen): crop become an undifferentiated bulk com- modity raised in such high volumes that it • Biodiesel provides an energy yield of doesn’t have enough value for growers to 3.2 (soybean oil) • Bioethanol provides an energy yield of 1.34 • Petrodiesel provides an energy yield of .843 • Petro gasoline provides an energy yield of .805 Economics of biodiesel production and use Commercial-scale biodiesel production has been through some dizzying and difficult growth and retrenchment periods in the past few years. After rapid growth and reports of profits in 2006-2007, 2008 spikes in com- modity prices and the collapse in petro-Canola is the edible version of rapeseed. Photo courtesy of USDA ARS. leum prices have made for some hard les-Page 6 ATTRA Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
  7. 7. sons for biodiesel investors and advocates. dropping by $19 to $45 per ton.” (Feed-Some planned biodiesel plants were not stuffs, 2009)built and existing plants cut production or A 30-million-gallon-a-year (MGY) biodieselclosed in 2008. One can now draw on some plant in Ralston, Iowa, currently employsof these experiences to assess the economics 28 full time workers. The nearby 12-of biodiesel production. million-bushel-a-year capacity oilseedMany studies have been conducted on the crusher employs 16 fulltime-equivalentpotential macroeconomic benefits of large- workers (Raney, 2009). If this plant is indic-scale biodiesel production in various loca- ative of larger-scale biodiesel production, thetions around the country. According to the late 1990s projections of 100 jobs created forHampel Oil Distributors’ Biodiesel Fact each 100 MGY of biodiesel production seemSheet (Hampel Oil, 1998), and Dr. Donald to hold true.Van Dyne, seven major economic benefits Scale is a strong determinant of who canwould accrue to state and local communities afford to own all or part of a plant or Tthat produced biodiesel: he cost biorefi nery, bear the risks and accrue the of the1) Biodiesel expands demand for soybean benefits of that ownership. The rule of oil, which raises the price processors pay thumb for the price of a new, larger-scale vegetable for soybeans. biodiesel plant is about $1 for a gallon of oil feedstock is annual production capacity. the single largest2) Soybean farmers near the biodiesel plant receive slightly higher prices for The cost of the vegetable oil feedstock is the factor in biodiesel soybeans. single largest factor in biodiesel production production costs. costs. In recent years, biodiesel costs ranged3) The presence of a facility that creates between $1.25 and $2.50 a gallon, before energy from soybeans adds value to the taxes, depending on transportation, distri- state’s industrial and income base. bution and feedstock costs (Radich, 2004).4) More jobs and increased personal income Waste vegetable oil can be used to make in rural communities. biodiesel. What was once considered a waste5) Additional and more diversified markets product to be given away or disposed of in a for both starch-based and oilseed-based landfill now has value and a price for reuse crops that can help production agriculture in a many communities. Th is has the net be more competitive. effect of driving up this biodiesel feedstock cost as well.6) Investment in production plants also provides an increased tax base to help support local governments, schools and other public services (Van Dyne, 1998).Van Dyne’s first and second assertions havebeen confirmed by a 2009 study commis-sioned by the United Soybean Board. Thatstudy found that “U.S. soybean farmersreceived an additional $2.5 billion in netreturns over the last four years due to thebiodiesel industry’s demand for soybean oil.”or about a 25-cents-per-bushel increase inthe price of soybeans. The study asserts “thatthe biodiesel industry has essentially createda new floor for soybean oil prices. Addition-ally, the study found that higher demandfor soybean oil led to an increased supply of Mustard has rotational benefits. Photo courtesy ofsoybean meal, resulting in meal prices USDA ATTRA Page 7
  8. 8. Biodiesel that is sold, traded or otherwise production. According to David Morris publicly distributed has to meet the ASTM of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “If D-6751 quality standards. Processing and farmers own the ethanol plants; that is, if testing to these standards can add consider- they own a share of the manufacturing facil- ably to the costs of biodiesel production for ity that converts their raw material into a smaller producers. Some biodiesel users and finished product, they can receive dividends homebrewers are willing to accept tradeoffs of 20-30 cents per gallon.” (Morris, 2005) in small-scale production, meeting only the Another dimension related to farmers mak- most critical indicators of fuel quality. ing a reasonable profit is the value of biodiesel The economics of producing and using co-products. For example, entrepreneurs and biodiesel on a small scale are outlined in scientists in Montana considering biodiesel Maria “Mark” Alovert’s excellent Biodiesel development in that state discovered in 2006 Homebrew Guide. There are several calcula- that a biodiesel plant could not pay farmers a tors that can help determine the costs of oil- sustained fair price for their bioenergy crops seed crushing and biodiesel production. See (canola or industrial rape) unless the co-prod- the Further resources section at the end of ucts could be manufactured and sold. this publication for more details. Th is means that a biorefinery may be the most economically sustainable means of Ownership and design of larger-scale biodiesel production. Within biodiesel production this production design or paradigm, the crude vegetable oil pressed from bioenergy Ownership and design of biodiesel produc- crops is the base for all sorts of products, tion is also related to feedstock price and a ranging from relatively lower-value biodiesel fair rate of return to farmers. Farmer owner- to biolubricants for motors. The crop press- ship of at least part of the production process ings have potential value as biopesticides and beyond the farm gate keeps more dollars in animal feed. Table 3 shows some of the possible farmers’ pockets and in the local commu- co-products of biodiesel (Miller, 2003). nity. This has been proven time and again, most recently in the Midwest with ethanol Biorefineries are not a new concept. They are, in fact, similar to petroleum refineries.Table 3: Value-added tree (Adopted from Miller, 2003) However, their process com- plexities, capitalization and permitting requirements go far beyond making biodiesel in the garage or farm shop. Scale of biodiesel production In the Kansas-based Land Institute’s Sunshine Farm proj- ect, researchers concluded that farm-scale biodiesel production might not be cost-effective for farmers to pursue individually, but that some level of commu- nity-scale biodiesel production with standards satisfactory to engine manufacturers would be more feasible (Bender, 2001). Individuals would each have to spend too much energy andPage 8 ATTRA Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
  9. 9. resources to produce biodiesel on a farm.This conclusion has been verified by Mon-tana farmers who participated in a statewidebiodiesel testing project (Kurki, 2009).Small community-scale biodiesel produc-tion would likely produce more biodieselfor less effort. That scale of production wasnot precisely defined in the Land Institutereport. Far more research and documentedpractical experience in biodiesel production indispersed, near-farm and community-levelsettings is needed.Larger-scale biodiesel production has slowedafter an enormous growth spurt. In March2008, 173 biodiesel production plants wereonline in the United States. The new plantsrange in initial production capacity fromabout 1.25 MGY at a plant in Texas to aproposed 30 MGY plant in Iowa. Archer Biodiesel bus. Photo courtesy of USDA ARS.Daniels-Midland has an 85 MGY plant inNorth Dakota (using canola) and Cargillhas a 37.5 MGY plant in Iowa. Conclusion Resources are available to help farmers andAccess to biodiesel consumers determine the best means to manageBiodiesel is currently available in most states the advantages biodiesel has to offer. Biodieselthat produce oilseed crops, and many farmers has tailpipe benefits and holds great promise as ause biodiesel as a means of fostering produc- sustainable energy source, if several sustainabilitytion and raising public awareness. Nonethe- principles are treated seriously:less, farmers’ access to biodiesel for farm useis another dimension that requires consid- 1) Capture as much energy efficiency as pos-eration and raises potential for a sad irony. sible on and off the farm to reduce trans-Farmers who raise crops for biodiesel in portation fuel demand, reduce productionisolated rural areas may not have ready access costs and improve energy the finished fuel. Unless farmers intend to 2) Convert as much waste as possible into amake biodiesel on-location, or a larger-scale useable resource, such as converting wastelocal biodiesel production facility is online, vegetable oil into fuel.many farmers may find they cannot use the 3) Put oil-producing crops and high-qual-fuel they are working to create. On its Web ity agricultural lands to their highest andsite, the National Biodiesel Board lists about most sustainable use, which will often be1,400 suppliers across the United States, but food production instead of energy pro-some have discontinued biodiesel distribu- duction.tion. Almost every state has at least one pumpstation that offers some blend of biodiesel, 4) Raise bioenergy crops that enhance soilthough not necessarily within practical dis- and water resources.tance for most potential customers. The site 5) Create a range of diverse opportunitiesposts a map of retail outlets for biodiesel for biodiesel production in terms of theacross the country. The board recommends scale, design and ownership, so farmersasking regional fuel distributors to get more and rural communities can share in thebiodiesel supplied locally (NBB, 2009). economic ATTRA Page 9
  10. 10. References Radich, Anthony. 2004. Biodiesel Performance, Costs, and Use. Energy Information Administration. U.S.Bender, Marty. 2001. Energy in Agriculture and Department of Energy. Insights from the Sunshine Farm. The Land analysispaper/biodieselInstitute. 10 p. Accessed July 2009. Raney, Bill. West Central Soy. April 2009 phone conversation with author Al Kurki.EarthTrends. 2009. Transportation: Motorgasoline consumption per capita. World Resources Tickell, Joshua. 2000. From the Fryer to the FuelInstitute. Accessed July 2009. http://earthtrends. Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable as an Alternative Fuel. 3rd Edition. Tickell EnergyID=292&action=s.elect_countries Consulting, Tallahassee, FL. 162 p.Feedstuffs. 2009. Biodiesel Adds Value to Soybean U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE). 2004.Prices. Information from United Soybean Board. Estimated Consumption of Vehicle Fuels in theAccessed September 2009. Feedstuffs magazine. United States, 1995-2004; Table 10.www.feedstuff Van Dyne, Donald. 1998. Macro Economic Development&type=news&mod=News&mid=A3D60400B4204079 Benefits From the Biofuels Industry. University ofA76C4B1B129CB433&tier=3&nid=8D34974C9E8A4 Missouri. reports/gen/19980701_gen-097.pdfGroschen, Ralph. No date. Energy Balance/Life CycleInventory for Ethanol, Biodiesel and Petroleum Fuels.Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Resources for Table 2 Putnam, D.H., J.T. Budin, L.A. Field, and W.M.Hampel Oil. 1998. Power Biodiesel and Bio Fuels. Breene. 1993. Camelina: A Promising Low-inputAccessed August 2009. Oilseed. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Newpower%20bio%20diesel.html Crops. Wiley, New York. p. 314-322.Kurki, Al, with Howard Haines. 2009. Oilseeds for UC SAREP Online Cover Crop Database.Fuel, Feed and the Future Project Report. National University of California at Davis. Accessed September,Center for Appropriate Technology. May 2005., Paul. 2003. Value-Added Tree in A Biobased Wallace, Janet (ed). 2001. Organic Field CropVision for Montana and the Pacific Northwest. Handbook. Second edition. Canadian OrganicPresentation at the Greening Under the Big Sky Growers. Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 292 p.conference. Big Sky, MT, June, 2003.Morris, David. 2005. West Wing’s Ethanol Problem. Further resourcesAlternet. Accessed July 2009. BookNational Biodiesel Board (NBB) 2009. Biodiesel Fact Alovert, Maria “Mark.” 2004. Biodiesel HomebrewSheets. Accessed July 2009. Guide. Version 9. May 8. 85 p.fuelfactsheets/default.shtmNational Biodiesel Board (NBB). 2009. Guide to OnlineBuying Biodiesel. Accessed July 2009. www.biodiesel. NCAT Oilseeds for Fuel, Feed and the Futureorg/buyingbiodiesel/guide, Charles L. No date. Potential Production Biodiesel Cash Flow Worksheet, Oilseeds Processingof Biodiesel. University of Idaho. Accessed July 2009. Cash Flow Worksheet and Biodiesel Cash Flow Statement Worksheetpublication/02.pdf 10 ATTRA Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions
  11. 11. Feasibility of Biodiesel Cost Calculator Biodiesel and Straight Vegetable Oil Kits Vehicles, Biodiesel Coops, Producers and MoreNational Biodiesel Board BiodieselSMARTERJourney to Forever www.biodieselSMARTER.org National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency. July 1,The Veggie Van Organization 2009. U.S. Environmental Protection ATTRA Page 11
  12. 12. Biodiesel: The Sustainability Dimensions By Al Kurki, Amanda Hill and Mike Morris, NCAT Program Specialists Updated by Amanda Lowe, NCAT Intern © 2010 NCAT Holly Michels, Editor Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: or IP281 Slot 281 Version 011910Page 12 ATTRA