Also known as: Renewable fuels

Biofuels are non-oil based fuels produced from agricultural products (e.g., bioethanol, biodiesel).

Biofuels are typically used as a blendstock in conjunction with conventional oil-based fuel blendstocks to make diesel and gasoline.

The use of biofuels is largely driven by government mandates that require a minimum level of biofuels blending.  

Types of biofuels

There are a variety of different biofuels currently used to satisfy renewable fuels mandates, the most common are:

  • Bioethanol - ethanol produced from agricultural sugars or starch (from corn, sugarcane, beets or wheat) through a fermentation process.  Also small amounts produced from cellulosic feedstocks
  • Biodiesel (FAME) - diesel blendstock produced from vegetable oils or animal fats using a transesterification process.  Yields a diesel blendstock that can be blended in low volumes (typically 5%), limited by cold flow properties
  • Renewable diesel - high-quality diesel blendstock produced from hydroprocessing of vegetable oils or animal fats
  • Bio-ETBE - an ether produced from bioethanol and isobutylene used as a renewable gasoline blendstock, especially in Europe

Author: Tim Fitzgibbon, Refining Industry Sr. Expert

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