Sustainability 150 150 Star Oilco


Star Oilco’s Commitment to Sustainability

What is biodiesel? Is it the same as raw vegetable oil?

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning diesel fuel made from vegetable oil. Simply stated, a biodiesel molecule is a                                                              vegetable oil molecule with the glycerol removed. Chemically, biodiesel is defined as a mono-alkyl ester of                                                           vegetable oil.

Biodiesel is NOT the same as raw vegetable oil or straight vegetable oil (SVO). Diesel engines actually can                                                             operate on straight vegetable oil (SVO) as a fuel. In fact, Rudolf Diesel’s first compression ignition (Diesel)                                                            engine introduced in 1895 used peanut oil as its fuel. Modern diesel equipment, however, requires some                                                          modification to burn straight vegetable oil, and it is yet unclear the effects of straight vegetable oil on diesel                                                         engine performance and longevity.

Will biodiesel void my engine warranty?

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Original Engine Manufactures (OEM) provide a material and workmanship warranty on their products. Such warranties do not cover damage caused by external conditions, such as fuel. Thus, if an engine using biodiesel experiences a failure unrelated to the biodiesel use, it MUST be covered by the OEM’s warranty. Federal law prohibits the voiding of a warranty just because biodiesel was used – it has to be the cause of the failure. If an engine experiences a failure caused by biodiesel (or any other external condition, such as bad diesel fuel), it will not be covered by the OEM’s warranty.”

Star Oilco distributes only commercially produced biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751-03 specification – a demanding fuel testing regimen that guarantees the fuel will perform properly in your engine.

Biodiesel is considered an additive in blends less than 6% (B5). Petroleum diesel with 5% biodiesel added still meets ASTM specifications for #2 petroleum diesel fuel. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and numerous states and federal fleets, including all branches of the U.S. Military, have performed more than 40 million miles of road testing on B20. The results of which have only been positive.

Fleets such as Yellowstone National Park and the City of Berkeley (CA) Solid Waste Management Division have had great success running diesel vehicles on pur biodiesel (B100).

Does biodiesel cost more than petroleum diesel?

Yes. The current retail price for on road B99 is $3.29 per gallon. Our customers pay a premium for biodiesel to support domestic energy sources and because of environmental concerns. Many biodiesel users experience a lower maintenance cost when they use biodiesel.

Can I use Oregon produced biodiesel?

Yes! In fact, the biodiesel you purchase through Star Oilco is produced right here in Oregon! Sequential Biofuels opened their first plant in Salem, OR in July 2005. This plant will produce 1 million gallons of biodiesel annually from waste vegetable oil. Oil sources include the Salem Kettle Chips plant. Country singer Willie Nelson is an investor in the effort.

Does biodiesel provide similar miles per gallon, torque, and horsepower?

In terms of energy contained in the fuel, a gallon of biodiesel contains slightly less energy than a gallon of petroleum diesel. For example, B20 tends to reduce fuel economy by approximately 1%. B20 users rarely report changes in torque or power. With B100, torque, power and fuel economy can be reduced by approximately 8%. However, the increased lubricity of biodiesel may help to counteract this energy difference. Some drivers report better performance with biodiesel, but most do not notice any difference.

Can I switch back and forth between diesel and biodiesel?

Yes! Biodiesel is the ultimate flexible fuel, so you can switch back and forth between biodiesel and petroleum diesel whenever necessary. Also, you can blend biodiesel with petroleum diesel in any percentage.

Is biodiesel safe to handle?

Yes! Biodiesel is ten times less toxic than table salt and biodegrades faster than sugar. The EPA has tested biodiesel’s health effects extensively and has classified it as a non-toxic substance that poses absolutely no threat to human health. Biodiesel is such a clean fuel that it is used to remediate petroleum spills in water.

Can I use biodiesel in an oil furnace (to heat my home)?

Yes! Biodiesel can be used in any diesel application. Oil #2 is the primary heating oil sold in the U.S. It is essentially the same as the diesel sold at gas stations, but contains much more of the pollutant sulfur. Sulfur contributes to acid rain formation, as well as the creation of nitrous oxides and particulate matter, both of which have serious air quality and human health impacts.

Biodiesel is just as warm as regular heating oil, but will help keep both the furnace and the air cleaner. It reduces the oily smell of the liquid fuel and makes the exhaust coming from the chimney smell better – a little like French fries. Pure biodiesel is biodegradable, and it is far less toxic than diesel. With a higher flash point, it is also less of a fire hazard. Biodiesel reduces emissions of cancer-causing compounds by up to 50%, and emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and hydrocarbons by approximately 20%.

Do I have to modify my furnace to use biodiesel?

No. B20 requires no modification to your heating system. However, biodiesel is a solvent, and will actually clean heating oil tanks and all fuel-wetted parts of a furnace. Because of this, users may experience clogging of the furnace fuel filter early on. Fuel filters are cheap and easy to replace, and the problem will end once the system is cleaned out.

If your heating oil tank is outside and/or underground,Star Oilco will only deliver B20 home heating oil. If your heating oil tank is located inside and above ground, Star Oilco will deliver B20 or B99.

Can biodiesel replace petroleum diesel?

For most of the 20th century, petroleum diesel has been consumed as though it would last forever. Experts disagree about how much petroleum is left and how long it will last. They do agree, however, that less new oil will be found and that prices will increase. Because biodiesel is “home-grown”, it provides energy security. Biodiesel can be produced on a yearly cycle, instead of a 10-million-year-cycle. While we can not displace all petroleum with renewable fuels, it is one important piece of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

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OIL VS. GAS – Which fuel is safer?

While a leak in your oil tank may cause temporary inconveniences, there have been no deaths or injuries associated with leaking oil tanks. The risks of injury are far greater with natural gas leaks and the statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety show that between 1986-1998, natural gas pipeline accidents have resulted in the deaths of over 200 people, injured more than 1,700 people, and caused more than $300 million in property damage. So safety is a legitimate concern.

Is natural gas cleaner and more efficient?

This is a misperception that is refuted by studies done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy. According to these studies, heating oil and natural gas produce approximately the same levels of pollutants. Natural gas is not cleaner than heating oil. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Gas Appliances Manufactures Association, heating oil equipment is actually more efficient, on average, than natural gas heating equipment.

Is either natural gas or oil better for the environment?

No. Both fuel sources cause similar amounts of pollutants in the environment. Many environmentalists are concerned about the risks to our wetlands, river and forests, that will be the impact of gas pipeline construction, and about leaks and accidents that have occurred in existing pipelines. Further, many have expressed concern about natural gas as it is a power greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.  If you are interested in heating with a fuel that is environmentally friendly, ask us about our biodiesel home heating oil.