FreightViking is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy through our links. Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Is Biodiesel Good For Semi Trucks? (Here’s The Truth!)

In today’s world, people are opting to look for an alternative, but cost-efficient and environmentally friendly resources, which is why switching to biodiesel keeps people talking.

This article will discover if biodiesel is suitable for semi trucks. Also, we will discuss how biodiesel differs from conventional diesel and its pros and cons. 

A Short Answer to Whether Biodiesel is Good for Semi Trucks:

Biodiesel is great for semi trucks because it has different blends that benefit users and the environment. It is made up of renewable resources, adds to the engine’s lubricity, and has a cleaner burn, producing reduced emissions, albeit with lower fuel efficiency.

What is Biodiesel, and How is it Different from Conventional Diesel?

Biodiesel is a type of fuel that is both biodegradable and renewable. It came from natural resources like recycled grease, animal fats, and vegetable oils.

Currently, people use biodiesel to fuel compression ignition engines. 

There are many claims regarding the advantages of using biodiesel rather than sticking to regular ones. Biodiesel is mixable with different concentrations for more significant benefits.

The distinction between biodiesel and standard diesel or petrodiesel is that biodiesel comes from biomass oils while the latter is made of petroleum. 

Also, compared to regular diesel, biodiesel was seen to have more benefits in terms of lubricity and resistance to cold weather conditions, which leads to better performance. 

Biodiesel contains no sulfur, which is perfectly great as it helps reduce pollution reduction. It is much less toxic than regular diesel. 

Can Semi Trucks Run on Biodiesel?

Yes, semi-trucks can run on biodiesel. Another fantastic thing about it is that almost all vehicles run on biodiesel blends.

Accordingly, the most common biodiesel blend which perfectly works in different vehicles is the B20. The number represents how much biodiesel concentration is in the said blend.

Later in this article, we will further expound on these grades of biodiesel blends. 

When it comes to semi-trucks, B20 is the most popular one. Some fleet owners in the United States of America have used it. 

But, other than the B20 concentration, trucks may run at a higher blend which can even be as high as B100. The same is also true with other vehicles.

Yet, this instance is rare. Operating on a B100 for the long run is rare since it can be more, but it is also possible. 

What are the Effects of Biodiesel on Truck Diesel Engines?

There is a significant impact of switching to using biodiesel on truck engines. It can range from both upbeat to adverse outcomes. Here are some of the good sides.

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center of the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel increases the cetane number of fuel. 

In response, it improves the lubricity of the fuel. The primary effect of such is that engines become easier and smoother to start and use. 

More so, using biodiesel on diesel engines reduces the delay in the ignition and prevents engine parts from wearing out. The improved lubricity also reduces friction. 

These benefits are generally applicable to diesel engines using biodiesel which necessarily includes that of a truck.

One must also consider the type of engine in which biodiesel operates, as it may significantly affect the performance of truck diesel engines. 

Of course, if an engine is of the good kind, then it is better to use. Whether biodiesel or standard diesel, the effect is that it will operate smoothly.

Does Biodiesel Damage Engines?

The question of biodiesel damage engines must be thoroughly explained and qualified.

Lower-quality biodiesel can damage engines, while good-quality ones are from causing damage.

First, we recognized that no universal biodiesel has the same quality and would ensure outstanding performance for engines. 

When choosing biodiesel, you must be aware that some have poor quality. The quality may be affected by several factors. 

Some things affecting a biodiesel’s quality are incomplete procession, traces of chemicals, and the existence of products of the reaction in the biodiesel.

Damage can also range from diluted lubrication oil and problems starting the engine during cold weather to fuel leaking, fuel clogs, and deposits on injectors. 

Meanwhile, good-quality biodiesel serves as a better alternative to diesel. It works well for a long-term period and can be used precisely the same way as petroleum diesel. 

Therefore, the key here is to secure good-quality biodiesel to prevent engine damage.

How Does the Fuel Efficiency of Biodiesel Compare?

It is said that some engines have a slight decrease in power and fuel efficiency due to using biodiesel in their vehicles. 

In engines operating on a B20 blend of biodiesel, there is reportedly 1% to 2% less energy per gallon than regular diesel. 

The said lowered fuel efficiency is different in all engines, as some do not notice any difference in performance.

Meanwhile, other users noticed a 10% reduction in the engine’s power. It necessarily follows that 1 gallon of standard diesel is equivalent to 1.1 gallons of biodiesel.

Even though biodiesel may slightly impact the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, using biodiesel has become more beneficial in other aspects.

Are Emissions Better or Worse with Biodiesel?

As we said, biodiesel offers excellent benefits in contrast to conventional ones. One such is that emissions are significantly better with biodiesel. 

Unlike standard diesel, biodiesel’s carbon dioxide is absorbed by the plant feedstock used in production. 

Reportedly, the emissions are reduced in a number almost commensurate with the biodiesel’s blend level. 

For instance, B20 has a 20% reduction in emissions. Using biodiesel emits less fossil carbon.

Lowered emission means it offers more incredible greenhouse gas benefits than standard diesel.

What are the Common Grades of Biodiesel?

The most common grades of biodiesel are the B5 and B20 blends. 

To reiterate, “blend” means the concentration of biodiesel when combined with the standard or petroleum diesel. 

It is essential to know the concentration well, as some vehicles may not be fit for rich blends and can cause damage instead. 

The B20 means that the biodiesel concentration ranges from 6% to 20% while the petroleum diesel is between 80% and 94%, respectively. 

On the one hand, the B5 has 5% biodiesel and 95% conventional fuel. The said concentration may still be referred to as diesel fuel without any additional label. 

There also exists B100, but it is less likely to be used as a transportation fuel. But, some still tried using it as a complete alternative to petroleum diesel. 

Hence, users prefer the B5 and B20 as they work smoothly and require a minor adjustment compared to B100, which needs special handling and possible equipment changes.

What is the Best Grade of Biodiesel for your Semi Truck?

The B20 blend is the best grade of biodiesel for a semi-truck. 

The reason behind considering B20 as the best-fit semi truck is that B20 has the perfect balance of emissions, cost, performance, and compatibility. 

Using B20 and other lower concentration blends in your semi truck and other vehicles does not need engine modifications as it operates smoothly. 

B20 users report that although there is a slight reduction in fuel efficiency, they barely even notice it. For them, it has the same power, consumption, and efficiency as the standard ones.

How much does Biodiesel Cost and Where can you Get it?

Many people claim that one downfall of biodiesel is its high price, little they know, it costs almost in the same range as a standard diesel. It is even cheaper than the latter.

The prices of gas, in general, dramatically rise. The same is valid for the price of biodiesel. A B20 costs about $5.34 per gallon, while B99 to B100 is more costly at $5.60. 

On the other hand, diesel has almost the same price range of about $5.60 per gallon. The price range is the national average price between July 1 to 15, 2022.

The price range is not absolute and subject to changes. Depending on location, political climate, demand, and time, it may increase or decrease. 

Another good thing about biodiesel is it can be found worldwide. You must thoroughly search within your country whether it is accessible and for how much. 

For instance, all 50 states in the United States have biodiesel, so it is easy to find. It can also be found in Canada, among many other countries.  

However, as discussed above, choosing biodiesel has pros and cons. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages when it comes to using semi-trucks.  

Hence, in looking for biodiesel for their semi trucks, one must see that they will use a good-quality one to maximize the vehicle’s performance, efficiency, and power.