Corn+Soybean Digest

Biofuels Defined

B2: A mixture of 2% biodiesel and 98% petroleum diesel based on volume.

B20: A mixture of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel based on volume.

B100: 100% biodiesel, also known as “neat” biodiesel.

BIODIESEL: A biodegradable transportation fuel for use in diesel engines that is produced through the transesterfication of organically-derived oils or fats. It may be used either as a replacement for or as a component of diesel fuel.

CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2): A colorless, odorless gas produced by respiration and combustion of carbon-containing fuels. Plants use it as a food.

E10: A mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline based on volume.

E85: A mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline based on volume.

ETHANOL (CH3CH2OH): A colorless, flammable liquid produced by fermentation of sugars. Used as a fuel oxygenate and found in alcoholic beverages.

FERMENTATION: A biochemical reaction that breaks down complex organic molecules (such as carbohydrates) into simpler materials (such as ethanol, carbon dioxide and water). Bacteria or yeasts can ferment sugars to ethanol.

GLYCERIN (C3H8O3): A liquid by-product of biodiesel production. Glycerin is used in the manufacture of dynamite, cosmetics, liquid soaps, inks and lubricants.

HYDROCARBON (HC): An organic compound that contains only hydrogen and carbon. In vehicle emissions, these are usually vapors created from incomplete combustion or from vaporization of liquid gasoline. Emissions of hydrocarbons contribute to ground level ozone.

METHYL-TERTIARY BUTYL ESTER (MTBE): A fuel oxygenate made from petroleum. It does not biodegrade and can contaminate groundwater.

NITROGEN OXIDES (NOx): A product of photochemical reactions of nitric oxide in ambient air, and the major component of photochemical smog.

OXYGENATE: A compound which contains oxygen in its molecular structure. Ethanol and biodiesel act as oxygenates when they are blended with conventional fuels. Oxygenated fuel improves combustion efficiency and reduces tailpipe emissions of CO.

OZONE: A compound that is formed when oxygen and other compounds react in sunlight. In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects the earth from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Though beneficial in the upper atmosphere, at ground level, ozone is called photochemical smog, and is a respiratory irritant and considered a pollutant.

PARTICULATES: A fine liquid or solid particle such as dust, smoke, fumes, or smog, found in air or emissions.

PETROLEUM: Any petroleum-based substance comprising a complex blend of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil through the process of separation, conversion, upgrading, and finishing, including motor fuel, jet oil, lubricants, petroleum solvents, and used oil.

SULFUR: A natural part of petroleum diesel fuel that is reduced during refining due to an EPA mandate. Sulfur increases petroleum diesel's lubricity and therefore engine life. Sulfur oxides and sulfides in exhaust emissions are major components of acid rain.

TRANSESTERFICATION: A chemical process which reacts an alcohol with the triglycerides contained in vegetable oils and animal fats to produce biodiesel and glycerin.

Source: Department of Energy, National Biodiesel Board and Renewable Fuels Association.

Information At Your Fingertips

Industry association Web sites are primed with information on biodiesel and ethanol. Visit the following sites to learn more on both topics, including locations on where to purchase biodiesel in your area:

National Biodiesel Board:

Renewable Fuels Association:

American Soybean Association:

National Corn Growers Association:

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.