about ARS research
Biodiesel seminar at
Enzyme recycling for fats
and oils, 12/15/99
at Beltsville, 8/11/99
NIR and Biofuel,
hydraulic fluid, 11/98
starting for engines, 4/98
Bacteria and biofuel,
Corn fiber oil
and gum, 12/97
ARS researcher in Peoria, Ill., inspects chilled
fuels winterized for better engine start-ups in
ARS Center to Heat With Soy-Based Biodiesel This Winter
By Don Comis
October 31, 2000
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31--As the country faces a winter with
tight supplies of home heating oil, some U.S.
Department of Agriculture employees in Beltsville, Md., as well as nearby
dairy cows, will stay warm this winter with biodiesel fuel,
Agricultural Research Service
Administrator Floyd Horn announced today.
Building on success with a fuel made from soybean oil for ARS
snowplows, tractors and other vehicles, Horn said ARS has begun heating a dozen
buildings on its 7,000-acre Henry A.
Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC)--including two dairy
barns--with a B5" biodiesel blend: 5-percent soy-based biodiesel and
95-percent heating oil. ARS is USDAs chief scientific research agency.
For more than a year, BARCs fleet of 150 farm and road
vehicles has been using 'B20,' a 20-percent soy-based biodiesel/80-percent
regular diesel mix. These vehicles include trucks and the centers tour
bus, Horn said.
Since we began using biodiesel in August 1999, 40 large
vehicle fleets across the country have done likewise. Now, we are taking the
lead in introducing the country to heating with biodiesel, as Europeans already
This would help reduce the potential home heating oil crisis
facing the Northeast this winter and reduce our nations dependence on
foreign oil, Horn said. If everyone in the Northeast used just the
B-5 blend, it could save 50 million gallons of regular heating oil this
John Van de Vaarst, ARS deputy area director for the Beltsville
Area, said that biodiesel is working at least as well as regular diesel fuel in
the vehicles. Plus, it is cleaner-burning and is better for the
environment, Van de Vaarst said. It also may be keeping the
vehicles engines cleaner, lowering maintenance costs.
We chose a B5 blend for heating to reduce potential clogging
of the boilers' fuel filters and strainers with sludge which has settled in the
storage tank over the years. Biodiesel has excellent solvent properties that
clean the tank and accessories. But, a higher blend could cause clogging,
Van de Vaarst said.
Higher concentrations--up to 100 percent biodiesel--can be used
for both residential and industrial heating, although B5 to B20 blends are more
likely to be used widely, at least initially.
Van de Vaarst said that biodiesel costs more than regular diesel,
but the difference in price has narrowed considerably in the past year, as
diesel oil prices have risen. Today, B20 costs about 25 cents a gallon
more than regular diesel and B5 costs about a nickel a gallon more, Van
de Vaarst said.
But that gap could be narrowed more as winter arrives,
Van de Vaarst said. It is easy to switch to biodiesel heating fuel
because no modifications are needed to existing heating equipment.
Horn said that ARS decided to lead the way in using biodiesel to
run vehicles and heat buildings because it has many payoffs for the country.
Farmers sell more soybeans or other oilseed crops, hopefully at a higher
price; we conserve petroleum; and we get cleaner air. The
U.S. Department of Energys National
Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the cancer-causing potential of biodiesel
exhaust is 94 percent less than that of petroleum diesel.
Contact: John Van de Vaarst, Facilities Management and
Operations Division, Henry A. Wallace
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Md., phone (301)