The Emergence of Biodiesel and Bioheat® Fuel

August 31st, 2012 | by: Steve Brenner

The timeline of how biodiesel and Bioheat® Fuel came to market

The concept of biofuels is surprisingly old. In 1900 Rudolph Diesel, whose invention now bears his name, demonstrated his engine by running it on peanut oil at the World Exhibition in Paris, France. Eventually, Petroleum entered the picture and proved to be the most logical fuel source, based on supply, price and efficiency, among other things.


Though it wasn’t common practice, vegetable oils were also used for diesel fuel in the 30’s and 40’s. The passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), allowed the EPA to more closely regulate emissions standards for pollutants like sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The act set the stage for developing cleaner-burning fuels and also set standards for fuel additives. With that, the idea of using biofuels was revisited in the United States.

The 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo and the 1978-1979 Iranian Revolution, coupled with a decrease in domestic oil production, served to drive prices up. U.S. crude oil imports were cut by 30% during the embargo. The world price of crude oil went from $14 per barrel in 1979 to $35 per barrel in 1981.

Our apparent dependence on importing oil at that time drove the steady progression toward biofuels:


The first International Conference on Plant and Vegetable Oils was held in Fargo, N.D., dealing with matters ranging from fuel cost and the effects of vegetable oil to fuel additives and extraction methods.



The world price for crude oil stabilized between $28 and $29 per barrel.



University of Missouri and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council funded a study to demonstrate the use of soy-based mono-alkyl esters as a diesel fuel replacement.



The National SoyDiesel Development Board was founded by Qualified State Soybean Boards from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota to coordinate state and national development efforts. In 1994 they voted to change the name to the National Biodiesel Board.



Two major biodiesel fuel suppliers registered with EPA.



President Clinton signs Executive Order 13101, giving preference to bio-based products for federal government use. Congress approves biodiesel use for compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT).



President Clinton signs Executive Order 13134, calling for the expanded use of bio-based fuels such as biodiesel. The US biodiesel industry produces 500,000 gallons.



Biodiesel becomes the only alternative fuel to successfully complete the EPA’s Tier I and Tier II Health Effects Testing under the Clean Air Act.



The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (BQ-9000) is established as a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel.



Groundbreaking biodiesel legislation becomes law in Minnesota, requiring the inclusion of 2 percent soy-based biodiesel (B2) into the majority of Minnesota’s diesel pool by 2005. The Senate version of the Energy Bill includes the first-ever proposed biodiesel tax incentive, giving the fuel a one-cent exemption per percentage of biodiesel, up to 20 percent.



The biodiesel tax incentive is first enacted as part of HR 4250, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. Devine Brothers Inc. becomes the first fuel oil company to bring Bioheat® to the Connecticut market.



President Bush signs legislation establishing a tax incentive for biodiesel.



The National Biodiesel Board opens its Washington, D.C. office. The office is committed to raising awareness of biodiesel successes, while advancing positive federal energy policy.



In October B5 Bioheat® was approved under ASTM D396 and D975. Bioheat® B6 – B20 was also approved under ASTM D7467 at that same time. ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards.

President Bush signs legislation establishing the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) providing a mandate of use of biomass-based diesel for obligated parties. ASTM passes new specification, one that allows for diesel to contain up to B5, and another that sets a new specification for blends of B6 – B20. The state of Washington begins its B2 state-wide standard.



Pennsylvania biodiesel requirement triggers 2 percent biodiesel in all diesel fuel, to begin January 1, 2010. Oregon B2 standard begins, with an increase to B5 in 2011.


On September 15th NORA Leaders, approximately 100 individuals representing the 23 NORA states and the District of Columbia met to set a new vision for the future of oilheat at the Baltimore Summit to include the following goals:


By July 2010, all heating oil will be mixed with a bio component that meets the appropriate specifications to ensure that at least 2 percent of the fuel is renewable, and that those levels will increase over time as technical and economic feasibility permit.

By July 2011, the petroleum base stock we now call heating oil will be transitioned to ultra low sulfur diesel fuel.

In the interest of lowering the carbon intensity of heating oil applications, training on thermal solar applications will be provided to heating oil companies.



New York City passes a 2 percent Bioheat® mandate. The bill creates a 2 percent biodiesel standard in the city’s heating oil beginning in 2012. The RFS2 program officially goes into effect. The RFS program sets annual mandates for renewable transportation fuels.



The National Biodiesel Board launches the Advanced Biofuel Initiative. US biodiesel is the only commercial-scale advanced biofuel in America, as defined by the EPA.

More than 60 percent of US manufacturers now support B20 or higher blends in at least some of their equipment.

The US biodiesel industry breaks the 1 billion gallons produced mark.

Bioheat® campaign launches in New York to raise awareness with the message, “Choose the cleaner, renewable home heat without changing equipment. Bioheat®. It’s the evolution of oilheat.”

On December 31st the biodiesel tax incentive expired.



The National Biodiesel Board celebrates its 20th year.

On August 2nd the Senate Finance Committee passed a bipartisan tax package that includes an extension of the now-expired biodiesel tax incentive through 2013. They are currently awaiting the Senate and the House to follow suit.

A recent economic study commissioned by NBB found that biodiesel production of 1 billion gallons supports 39,027 jobs across the country and more than $2.1 billion in household income. An additional 11,698 jobs could be added between 2012 and 2013 alone under continued growth in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and with an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive. To write your Senator and request their support of the biodiesel tax incentive through 2013 to keep the success story going visit:


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