Biodiesel fuel superior to ethanol

Policy efforts should be aimed at developing biofuels, as they are more efficient and realistic.

by Keelia Moeller

Recent innovations have led to the creation of biofuels, which are made of biomass materials and create less air pollution than typical gasoline. While biofuels are more expensive to produce than fossil fuels, they could create a healthier environment.

Biofuels come in multiple forms, two of which are biodiesel and ethanol. Ethanol is derived from corn, grains or agricultural waste and serves as a substitute for gasoline. Biodiesel, made from vegetable oil or animal fats, is an alternative to typical diesel.

Both types of biofuel are normally blended into a gasoline mixture to make diesel engines run effectively. However, most engines aren’t designed to run entirely on biofuel.

In 2012, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an Omnibus Agriculture Policy bill that requires all gasoline blends to be 20 percent ethanol by 2018.

Some cars currently have problems with blends as low as 15 percent. Once the state law requires a 20 percent blend, there simply won’t be room for ethanol companies to grow.

Rather than spend more money on expanding ethanol plants, Minnesota should focus its attention on biodiesel.

The biodiesel industry operates only three plants in Minnesota, so it has enormous potential for growth. Biodiesel is biodegradable and simpler to make than ethanol. It also reduces 41 percent of carbon dioxide emissions compared with diesel fuel, while ethanol generates a mere 12 percent reduction.

Minnesota needs to realize how beneficial biodiesel is. While ethanol is a useful renewable fuel, biodiesel is drastically more efficient, and it has more potential to become a sustainable energy source for our cars.