Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that is made from vegetable oil, animal fat, recycled cooking oil, seed crops, and even algae. It is “pour and go” technology in that biodiesel is easily blended with petroleum diesel and can be used in any diesel engine. Blends are labeled with abbreviations such as B5, B20, or B100, where the number stands for the percentage of biodiesel in the fuel. For instance, B20 is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, and B100 is pure biodiesel.

Biodiesel reduces particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and unburned hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions. It also reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions. (AFDC) Fleets and drivers that use biodiesel also enjoy safety benefits. Biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable, so it’s safer for water and soil when spills happen. It’s also safer to use, handle, and store than petroleum diesel.

Like other alternative fuels, biodiesel is produced domestically — even locally. It reduces our need for imported oil and helps support local industry. North Carolina currently has five biodiesel plants that are each able to produce from one to five million gallons of fuel annually. Biodiesel has a very attractive energy balance ratio. According to a University of Idaho and US DA study, for every unit of fossil fuel energy that went into producing biodiesel, 5.5 units of energy are provided for use.

For more information:

1. Read the Biodiesel Fact Sheet
2. Join the “Friends of Biodiesel” listserve: A forum where biodiesel ‘newbies’ and experts can ask and answer questions about producing, distributing, and using biodiesel in North Carolina. Join now by sending an email to: with the subject line empty and only the following in the body (replace the brackets with your email address):

subscribe friendsofbiodiesel [EmailAddress]

What Vehicles are Available?

Almost any diesel engine purchased after 1993 can safely burn biodiesel without any modification at all. It’s not even necessary to empty your tank before switching to biodiesel, since biodiesel blends so easily with petroleum diesel. (AFDC)

Where Is Biodiesel?

You may be using biodiesel now without knowing it! A blend of up to 5% biodiesel can be included in regular ultra-low sulfur diesel without any labeling requirement. Higher blends can be found at 20 stations in NC.


Additional Resources

Alternative Fuels Data Center

Fleet Assessment

Incentives and Funding

National Biodiesel Board