Future of Renewable Fuels - Concept image - Mansfield Service Partners

The Present and Future of Renewable Fuels

Published On: January 22, 2024Categories: Blog

Renewable Fuels Have Always Been Part of the Solution

Renewable fuels have always been part of civilization, even pre-dating civilization, back to the first recorded human use of wood-burning fires over 1.5 million years ago. Today the need for sustainable solutions is greater than ever and renewable fuels are taking center stage. These responsible alternatives help reduce our carbon footprint and some, like renewable diesel even offer commercial benefits, such as improved engine performance and higher lubricity for lower maintenance costs.

The Journey of Renewable Fuels

Renewable fuels are derived from renewable resources – think biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from animal fats, vegetable oils, and recycled waste oils from restaurants. Bioethanol (alcohol) made from corn or sugarcane also plays an important role. Historically, renewable energy policies were first adopted to establish domestic fuel reserves during emergencies, such as wartime.

Fast forward to the present day, and we see a rapid growth in renewable fuels. From the gentle turning of windmills in ancient Persia to the vast solar farms and renewable diesel refineries that dot our modern landscapes, renewable energy has long been part of our energy infrastructure in one way or another.

The Power of Biodiesel and Biodiesel Blends

Biodiesel stands out among renewable fuels for its energy density, versatility, and environmental benefits. It is a cleaner-burning, non-toxic alternative to petroleum diesel, produced from readily available, renewable resources. Biodiesel blends like B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% conventional diesel) are ready to use in any existing diesel vehicles or machinery without modifications. 

How Renewable Diesel is Changing The Conversation

While biodiesel has played an important role in reducing the ecological footprint of fueling diesel vehicles and giving us renewable fuel options — the more recent development of renewable diesel may be even more significant. Like biodiesel, renewable diesel comes from renewable, organic source materials including recycled cooking oil.

The most significant difference is that renewable diesel is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel fuel. This means it can be used in place of petroleum diesel in virtually any application without any vehicle modifications. Currently, B20, which is a blend of 20% biodiesel with 80% conventional diesel fuel can be used in most vehicles — but B100 (100% biodiesel) can only be used in vehicles certified for this fuel.

The advent of renewable diesel makes a major paradigm shift because it eliminates this obstacle. Renewable diesel makes it possible to enjoy all of the advantages of biodiesel, including higher lubricity and cetane levels in any existing diesel vehicles or equipment without the need for modifications. We believe this will help expand the use of renewable energy in American industry because so much of our industrial base is diesel-powered. 

Manufacturers Support Renewable Fuels 

Light and heavy truck manufacturers and engine makers have recognized the rise in the importance of renewable fuels. More and more manufacturers are certifying their engines to operate on 100% biodiesel (B100) fuel. New two-tank systems and other solutions are available and in development to make it possible to run B100 year-round. 

At the same time, renewable diesel production is increasing. Renewable diesel is similar to biodiesel in its source material (vegetable oils), but it is manufactured using a more sophisticated hydrotreating process than biodiesel. The resulting product is renewable diesel, which comes from similar non-toxic vegetable sources. But, unlike 100% biodiesel (B100), pure renewable diesel fuel can be used as a 1:1 replacement for petroleum-based diesel fuels.  

Manufacturers are increasingly producing engines with renewable fuels in mind. Corporations like General Motors and Ford Motor Co. to name two, have been supporting the Department of Energy’s FlexFuel initiative for years now. While conventional gasoline engines can run E10 (10% ethanol to 90% gasoline) FlexFuel engines are certified to run up to E85 (85% ethanol).

The Commercial Advantages of Renewable Diesel

Switching to renewable diesel can deliver significant benefits for commercial customers. For starters, renewable diesel is non-toxic and it burns cleaner than petroleum diesel, reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to smog and climate change. This can help businesses meet their sustainability goals and comply with increasingly stringent emissions regulations.

Another key benefit of renewable diesel is its high lubricity, which can extend the lifespan of vehicle components. It also has a higher cetane number than conventional diesel fuel, leading to more efficient combustion and improved engine performance. While the upfront cost can be higher than petroleum-based diesel, potential savings from reduced maintenance, tax incentives, and longer engine life can offset this over time.

B20 Biodiesel, which combines biodiesel with petroleum diesel, offers an alternative option when renewable diesel isn’t available. Like renewable diesel, it can be used in existing diesel engines without modification, making them a practical choice for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact.

The Future of Renewable Fuels

The future of renewable fuels looks bright. As technology advances and economies of scale are achieved, the cost of renewable fuels continues to decrease. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency reports a significant increase in renewable compared to fossil fuel production in OECD Europe from 2010 to 2020. Economies of scale, industry, and manufacturer support are all essential elements in expanding the use of renewable energy.

For businesses, incorporating renewable diesel and biodiesel blends into their fuel purchasing strategies is not just an investment in sustainability – it’s a smart business move. By adopting these renewable fuels, companies can reduce their environmental footprint, enhance their brand reputation, and potentially realize cost savings in the long run.

Mansfield Service Partners: Diesel Fuel Supplier Since 1932

At Mansfield Service Partners, we have built our reputation by delivering superior diesel fuel to innovate the future of renewable fuels, including renewable diesel to customers at competitive prices. Our business is built on keeping your business in motion with the fuel you need and a comprehensive range of support services, like our SMARTank program. 

If you or your organization are looking for a diesel fuel distribution partner with a rock-solid reputation and a wealth of experience – Mansfield Service Partners is only a phone call away at (800) 683-1331 or you are welcome to email any inquiries to info@mansfield.energy