advantages and disadvantages of biodiesel

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Biodiesel

Jane Marsh - September 15, 2022

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Environmentalists are targeting the energy sector to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Current power sources cause surface-level and atmospheric degradation. Energy professionals are developing sustainable power supplies to decarbonize the grid.

Individuals rely on fossil fuels to travel, illuminate properties, power heating and cooling systems, charge their electronics and transport goods. Environmentalists are exploring sustainable fuel’s ability to decarbonize the electricity sector. They assess the advantages and disadvantages of biodiesel to develop an eco-friendlier world.

What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a low-impact alternative to fossil fuels. Most manufacturers produce the fuel source from vegetable oil, reclaimed animal fat or used cooking oil. Recycling used oil and agricultural waste for fuel production is significantly more sustainable than drilling for fossil fuels.

Conventional oil drilling practices create surface-level and atmospheric pollution. Inefficiently managed oil wells can erupt and pollute marine ecosystems with contaminants. One rig off the Gulf Coast spewed over 4,900,000 barrels of oil into the ocean after a preventable explosion.

Biodiesel production is significantly more sustainable than fossil fuel development. Manufacturers create biodiesel using three production techniques. The first tactic relies on a base-catalyzed transesterification of plant or animal oil.

Another practice uses a direct acid transesterification process. The third technique relies on the conversion of oil to fatty acids and biodiesel. Diversifying biodiesel production practices may help manufacturers reduce pollution.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Biodiesel?

Professionals search for biodiesel integration techniques to limit society’s fossil fuel reliance. They are evaluating the top three advantages and disadvantages of biodiesel to determine its compatibility. Environmentalists also calculate whether biodiesel’s pros outweigh its cons.

1. Support for Renewables

The first benefit of biodiesel is its renewable resource integration. Producing fuel supplies from plants significantly decreases adverse ecological effects. Plants are nondepletable because Earth constantly makes vegetation to sustain its surface.

American biodiesel manufacturers produce about 90% of the fuel supply from soybeans. Creating fuel from plants also decreases surface-level emissions. Vegetation absorbs and filters carbon dioxide out of the environment.

2. Compatible with Current Technologies

Another advantage of biodiesel is its compatibility with current technologies. Drivers of diesel trucks can power their vehicles with the low-emission power source. Individuals may also rely on a combination of conventional and sustainable diesel to fuel their cars.

Using a low-impact fuel source compatible with modern cars and trucks reduces municipal solid waste (MSW). It reduces the demand for new vehicles, which keeps materials out of landfills. Decreasing MSW can prevent landfill emissions and eutrophication.

3. Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The third benefit of using biodiesel is its small carbon footprint. It produces up to 86% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel sources. Reducing transportation emissions can protect the global ecosystem and humanity’s health.

Preventing the enhanced greenhouse effect may preserve natural environmental conditions. It also may lower individuals’ risks of developing lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Adopting biodiesel can effectively help regions achieve decarbonization goals.

1. Only Suitable for Warm Climates

Some environmentalists are skeptical of biodiesel’s sustainability. They identify challenges with the fuel source’s integration. One disadvantage of biodiesel is its incompatibility with cold regions.

Researchers discovered biodiesel turns into a gel at low temperatures. Drivers are unable to use the fuel source in cold climates. Consumers can only use biodiesel as a fuel source in warm climates.

2. Water and Food Shortages

Another concern with biodiesel is its impact on water and food supplies. Producing fuel from plants can deplete the crops sustaining global society. Increasing crop production for biodiesel may also threaten local water supplies.

Soy is a water-intensive plant, which depletes many water sources. Solely producing biodiesel from soybeans can exploit communities’ vital resources.

3. Biodiesel is Expensive

The third disadvantage of using biodiesel is its steep pricing. Biodiesel is less cost-effective than conventional fuel sources, which creates economic challenges. A gallon of biodiesel was $5.58 last November.

The average price of diesel last November was $3.74, according to market data. Biodiesel prices will continuously exceed conventional fuel costs if consumer demands remain low. Environmentalists have a difficult time getting consumers on board with a sustainable fuel transition if its expensive.

Is Biodiesel Worth It?

Many consumers question whether adopting sustainable fuel is worth it after evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of biodiesel. Biodiesel is more accessible and affordable for individuals in different regions. Truck drivers in warm climates may benefit from transitioning toward biodiesel.

Individuals in northern regions may experience limitations when using the sustainable fuel source. Fewer consumers may purchase biodiesel in northern regions, which makes it less affordable than other energy sources. 

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.