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University of Southern California

Title Summary Date ID Author(s)
Small-Scale Biodiesel Production: Safety, Fuel Quality, and Waste Disposal Considerations

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning, renewable fuel that is a feasible alternative to fossil-based diesel fuel. Largely due to historically high energy prices, concerns over the environmental impact of fossil fuel, and a desire for energy independence, citizens of Virginia have become increasingly interested in renewable alternative fuels, including biodiesel fuel. A previous Virginia Cooperative Extension publication (see Biodiesel Fuel under References) discusses the basics of biodiesel fuel, including terminology, engine compatibility, engine warranty, biodiesel storage, fuel performance, cold temperature concerns, and emissions. This publication addresses producing one’s own biodiesel fuel from waste oil, fats, and oilseed crops. Currently, there are many small-scale biodiesel producers (ranging in size from several gallons to several hundred gallons per batch). There are significant safety considerations when operating small-scale processors. In addition, the fuel quality and the by-product disposal need to be closely monitored to assure engines are not damaged and regulations are met. The purpose of this document is to address safety, fuel quality, and waste disposal related to small-scale production. We present a general discussion of these issues based on a case study of four small-scale biodiesel processors conducted cooperatively by James Madison University (JMU), Virginia Tech (VT), the Virginia Clean Cities Collation, and Blue Ridge Clean Fuels Inc.

May 1, 2009 442-885