Forest was pleased with the Bring It Home Biofuels event, despite the bad news from the industry. Sun Power has had to – hopefully temporarily – stop production on its 1 million gallon/year biodiesel plant due to low prices and oil company wranglings that skim off all the subsidies that are supposed to be incentivizing biofuels production. We learned that 35 plants have shuttered since the beginning of 2015 alone. The EPA was supposed to set minimum requirements for biodiesel in diesel two years ago and still refuses to make a requirement.
The benefits of biodiesel were extolled at length – it makes diesel burn more completely and more cleanly (15% less greenhouse gas emissions if at 20%, 75% less if pure biodiesel), cleans and helps lubricate your engine (translates to running at lower temperature, better gas mileage, longer service life). Apparently Dr Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on biodiesel and was a great proponent of biodiesel, but after his death the diesel engine was altered to take fossil fuels. There are lots of misconceptions about biodiesel that have come from oil industry propaganda, lack of knowledge, resistance to change, and some low quality “homebrew” biodiesels in the past that did cause issues. There are no conversion kits necessary when switching from fossil fuels diesel to biodiesel, though changing your fuel filter is recommended, as the engine-cleaning effect on old engines can clog it. Biodiesel can also be used for heating oil. Wider themes of climate destabilization, peak oil, local control, and farm and homestead self-sufficiency were also briefly addressed and discussed. There is a pump with B5 (5% biodiesel) in Chaseburg and B10 in LaFarge. There are plans to get one in Viroqua ASAP and increase the % biodiesel in the existing pumps. Forest came away from the event with the impression that, while not necessarily and end-goal, biodiesel is vastly better than fossil fuels, funds local farmers and industry, and represents a viable “bridge fuel”, unlike fracking. He also came away with 5 gallons of B20 he won in the raffle!