U.S. biofuel production is rising as the country searches for more renewable energy sources. As the demand for biofuels rises, so does the demand for soybean oil. Soybean oil represents more than 60% of the vegetable oil-derived biodiesel produced in the United States.
According to an Anderson International CORP article in 2020, the U.S. produced approximately 11.57 million metric tons (MT) of soybean oil. About 3.9 million MT of this supply was then processed into soybean biodiesel. Energy industry analysts expect the domestic production of biodiesel to quadruple between 2020 and 2022. A surge from about 550 million gallons to 2 billion gallons.
In order to keep up with this expansion, domestic feedstock producers are ramping up soybean production. This adds several million MT of soybean oil to their annual production totals.
MISCONCEPTION #1: BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL ARE THE SAME.
Biodiesel and Ethanol are both biofuels, but are completely different in their origin and production process. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel made by fermentation of sugar cane, wheat or corn. Biodiesel is chemically processed fat or soybean oil.
MISCONCEPTION #2: BIODIESEL IMPACTS VEHICLE PERFORMANCE
Biodiesel and conventional diesel vehicles are one and the same. Although light, medium, and heavy-duty diesel vehicles are not technically alternative fuel vehicles, almost all are capable of running on biodiesel blends. The most common biodiesel blend is B20, which ranges from 6% to 20% biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel. B20 and lower-level blends can be used in many diesel vehicles without any engine modification.
MISCONCEPTION #3 ALL BIOFUELS HAVE LOWER FUEL ECONOMY THAN COMPARABLE FOSSIL FUELS
Reality is, on mileage, bio-based gasoline and renewable diesel have the same fuel economy as their counterparts. Bio-based fuels generate 2-7% better fuel economy than other types of diesel fuel. This is due to the way different fossil fuels particles behave in jet engines.
Ethanol is generally in the 70% range in terms of mileage per gallon, compared to regular gasoline.
One very important fact about biodiesel is it starts and ends in rural America. It is all U.S. grown and starts right in our own soil, grown by American farmers. Once soybean oil has been refined and turned into biodiesel the oil then goes through a chemical reaction. This happens when methanol and heat are added. Glycerin is then separated out of the mixture and used for things such as soap and animal feed.
The finished biodiesel is then shipped to distributors across the nation, used by retail states CO-OP, farmers, and much more. Then the whole renewable cycle begins again once soybeans are planted in the spring.