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New Study Makes the Case for Biodiesel

October 14, 2009

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Biodiesel fuel creates more than four times the amount of energy that it takes to make biodiesel, according to recent research from the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This research found that for every unit of fossil energy needed to produce biodiesel, it returns 4.5 units of energy.

Biodiesel made from soybean oil has a high energy balance, or the energy-in, energy-out ratio, because it's created through solar energy.

"This gives Americans even more reason to put their faith in the environmental and societal benefits of biodiesel," said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "The Environmental Protection Agency should take this into account when considering biodiesel's greenhouse gas reductions."

For EPA's proposed rule to implement the expanded Renewable Fuels Standard, the agency used 2005 baseline numbers for petroleum and biodiesel to project carbon impact 22 years in the future.

"In its rulemaking, EPA should recognize that biodiesel production is growing more efficient, while oil exploration and drilling becomes more intensive each day," Jobe said.

According to the study, key drivers that continue to make biodiesel an efficient fuel choice include:

* New seed varieties and management practices are upping soybean yields.

* Farmers have minimized cultivation of the soil. These reduced tillage practices have cut how much fuel they need to grow soybeans.

* Modern soybean varieties have reduced the need for pesticides.

* Today's soybean processing and biodiesel plants are more energy efficient.

"Our research shows continued progress in the renewability of biodiesel production," said Dev Shrestha, assistant professor at the University of Idaho Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. "Farmers, soybean processors and biodiesel producers are getting even better at using non-fossil resources and adopting other efficiencies that are leading to greater energy returns."

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