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BWC High-Mileage Review

Biodiesel

This month’s high-mileage car review is not focusing on an individual car, but a type of fuel: Whale blubber. Just kidding. We are, of course, talking about biodiesel.

This review includes info on the fuel as well as cars that can run on biodiesel, both new and previously new. If you’re one of those “high-powered people on the go” and don’t have time to scroll through this review, feel free to click on any of the section shortcuts below:

Biodiesel Defined
Cold Weather Warnings
Things People Like About Biodiesel
Things People Don’t Like About Biodiesel
A Few Car Models That Can Run on Biodiesel (New)
Not-So-Quick Stats (2007 Model Specific)
FAQs

Biodiesel Defined

Biodiesel is made by processing vegetable oils and other fats and is also used either in pure form or as an additive to petroleum-based diesel fuel. It can be made from a wide range of products, including rapeseed oil, soybean oil, mustard, flax, hemp, algae, waste vegetable oil, tallow, lard, and yellow grease.

Biodiesel is a much cleaner alternative to traditional petroleum diesel. Pure biodiesel (B100) emits about 78 percent less CO2 than conventional diesel. Burning biodiesel also reduces emissions of smog-forming hydrocarbons and particulate matter by about 50 percent, and emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates by 100 percent.

On the downside, biodiesel still spews more toxic soot and smog-forming pollutants than gasoline, and this will likely remain true until cleaner diesel emission standards go into effect in 2009.


Cold Weather Warnings:


The temperature at which pure (B100) biodiesel starts to gel varies, depending upon how the biodiesel was produced. If you live in a cold weather climate, it’s best to use a B20 blend during the winter (20% biodiesel, 80% petrodiesel).

Some people modify their vehicles to permit the use of biodiesel without the possibility of gelling. They install a second fuel tank (some models of trucks have two tanks already). This second fuel tank is insulated and warmed with a heating coil. A temperature sensor is installed, notifying the driver when the fuel is warm enough to burn, the driver then switches to the “warmed up” tank.

Things People Like About Biodiesel:

The EPA gives the Civic high marks, specifically noting that it is one of the best models in the country for greenhouse gas emissions (which kill the planet) and air pollution (which “merely” kills people).

- Improved mileage over gasoline. - Lessens our dependence on foreign oil. - Burns cleaner than petroleum diesel.

Things People Don’t Like About Biodiesel:

- For now, biodiesel emits more smog-forming pollutants than gasoline. - Pure (B100) and near-pure (B99) biodiesels can gel up in cold weather. - Based on current usage, the US can’t produce enough biodiesel to fully replace traditional petroleum diesel.

A Few Car Models That Can Run on Biodiesel (Newer):

Mercedes-Benz 2007 E320 BLUETEC Sedan CRD

2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E320 BLUETEC Sedan Picture
- MSRP: $51,550
- Powertrain - 2,987-cc DOHC 24-valve V-6
- Maximum Torque - 388 lb-ft @ 1600-2400 rpm
- Maximum Horsepower - 208 HP @ 3800 rpm
- Fuel Economy (mpg) City - 26
- Fuel Economy (mpg) Highway - 37
- Highway Range - 780
- Harman/Kardon(R) AM/FM Radio With 420-Watts, Speed Sensitive Volume, LOGIC7 Digital Surround Sound and 12 Speakers Total; CD Player; 6-Disc CD Changer Located In Center Console; MP3 Player
- 4 Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- Front Side Airbags

Volkswagen Golf GLS 1.9 TDI


- MSRP: $19,580
- 1.9L I4, 8 valve, 100 hp @ 4000 rpm
- 5 speed manual (standard) or 5 speed automatic transmission
- 37 mpg city / 44 mpg hwy
- Front and Rear Automatic Locking Retractors
- 4 Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- Radio Antenna

Volkswagen New Beetle TDI

2006 Volkswagen New Beetle TDI Picture
- MSRP: $18,390
- 1.9L I4, 8 valve, 100 hp @ 4000 rpm
- 5 speed manual (standard) or 6 speed automatic transmission
- 37 mpg city / 44 mpg hwy
- Front and Rear Automatic Locking Retractors
- Locking Differential
- Radio Antenna

Mercedes-Benz 2007 ML320 CDI

2007 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ML320 CDI Picture
- MSRP: $43,680
- Powertrain - 3.0L 24-valve V-6 diesel engine
- Maximum Torque - 398 lb-ft @ 1,400 - 2,800 rpm
- Maximum Horsepower - 160 HP @ 3800 rpm
- Fuel Economy (mpg) City - 21
- Fuel Economy (mpg) Highway – 27
- AM/FM Radio With Speed Sensitive Volume and 8 Speakers Total; CD Player
- 4 Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- Seat Mounted Front Side Airbags

Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2006 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan TDI Picture
- MSRP: $21,605
- Powertrain - 1.9L, I-4 (Diesel)
- Maximum Torque - 177 lb/ft @ 1800 rpm
- Maximum Horsepower - 100 HP @ 4000 rpm
- Fuel Economy (mpg) City – 36
- Fuel Economy (mpg) Highway - 41
- Combined - 38
- Highway Range – 638
- Automatic Locking Retractors
- Electronic Locking Differential
- Premium AM/FM Radio With 10 Speakers Total
- 6-Disc CD Changer Integrated With Radio
- MP3 Player

Mercedes-Benz E-Class E320 CDI Sedan

2006 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E320 CDI Sedan Picture
- MSRP: $51,050
- 3.2L I6, 24 valve, 201 hp @ 4200 rpm
- 5 speed automatic transmission
- 27 mpg city / 37 mpg hwy
- Automatic Locking Retractors
- 4 Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- AM/FM Radio With Seek, Scan, Speed Sensitive Volume, and 9 Speakers Total
- In-Dash CD Player

Car Models That Can Run on Biodiesel (Used)

Gobiodiesel.com has compiled a list of 1,510 used vehicles with diesel engines.


FAQs

The National Biodiesel Board has a great website with all kinds of information pertaining to Biodiesel. Their FAQ section answers such (cleanly) burning questions as “What is Biodiesel?” “How Do Biodiesel Emissions Compare To Petroleum Diesel?” and “Can I Use Biodiesel In My Existing Diesel Engine?” Click here to read the NBB’s FAQs ASAP.