Now more than ever before, there is an ongoing and vigorous debate over the use of various energy resources and their potential impact on the environment. As part of this debate, much is being written about the United States’ reliance on foreign oil, the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, and the need to continually improve energy efficiency.
Energy consumers, business leaders, policy makers, and the news media do not need more rhetoric; they need to ensure a balanced dialogue on the economic and environmental benefits of all fuels. As such, it’s important to understand and separate commonly held myths about heating oil and Bioheat® from facts:
Fact: Heating oil actually costs less than it did in 1980, when adjusted for inflation, and serves about 23 million Americans in 8.6 million households.
Source: Oilheat America
Fact: Each gallon of heating oil contains approximately 139,000 units of thermal energy (BTUs), making it an economically competitive energy source.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Fact: Bioheat® a minimum 2% to a maximum 5% biodiesel (ASTM 06751)blended with heating oil (ASTM0396). ASTM began work on biodiesel standards in 1993 and approved a stringent standard for B100 biodiesel in 2001. Biodiesel is currently the ONLY non-petroleum based diesel fuel to have an approved ASTM standard. ASTM also formally approved up to 5% biodiesel as a fungible component in heating oil (ASTM 0396) in 2008. B5 Biohea1®and lower meets the same exact specifications as current petroleum based heating oil.
Fact: Oil heating systems in use today use substantially less fuel than they did just 20 years ago. For example, an average home that used more that 1,200 gallons of heating oil in 1989 now uses only 900 gallons, or 25% less. This decrease in usage is attributable to advances in equipment efficiency and household conservation. New heating oil systems boast energy efficiency ratings from 83 to 94 percent.
Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance, America Petroleum Institute
Fact: Heating oil burns almost 95% cleaner than it did in 1970. Today, residential oil burners produce less than one-third of one percent of total U.S. particulate emissions.
Source: Oilheat America, American Petroleum Institute
To gain even greater efficiency and lower emissions, the industry in coordination with state environmental agencies is working to cut the sulfur content of heating oil from 1,500 parts per million to 15 parts per million by 2018.
Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance
Fact: In addition to its sulfur reductions, the heating oil industry is moving toward zero emissions with new fuel blends, called Bioheat®, which contain between 2 and 20 percent renewable fuel. When combined with Bioheat®, Oilheat has the potential to reduce emissions to the lowest level of any fossil fuel.
Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance
In fact, if just 5 percent of Americans heated their homes with today’s Bioheat®, it would be equivalent to taking 700,000 cars and trucks off the road.
Source: Oilheat America
Fact: Since 1970, the heating oil industry has cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by approximately one third.
Source: National Research Alliance
Fact: Over $60 million in research and development by the most prominent fuel research institutes in the world were utilized to set the standards for biodiesel and Bioheat®. Biodiesel has been used as a blending stock for No.2 fuels for over a decade. Independent studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the US Department of Agriculture and UL, have shown that ASTM grade biodiesel can be blended seamlessly in heating oil with even greater benefits to performance, human health, energy security, reducing dependence on foreign oil and impact on global climate change.
Fact: One of the major advantages of Biohea1®is that 0396 fuels, containing up to 5% biodiesel, can be used in home heating oil equipment in exactly the same way as standard heating oil. No modifications are needed to the equipment. Performance attributes, such as lubricity and global climate change) are actually improved.
Fact: Major equipment manufacturers have been very active in the ASTM process to approve Bioheat® blends up to 5% in ASTM 0396 and fully support 5% biodiesel in their equipment. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), through funding provided by the National Biodiesel Board and NORA, has conducted an evaluation of B5 and has formally announced that equipment intended to use Bioheat® up to 5% is compliant with applicable ASTM fuel standards. The Oilheat Manufacturers Association has endorsed the use of Bioheat®
Fact: The ASTM specification for B100 biodiesel used in Bioheat® has a stringent stability parameter as defined by ASTM 06751. This is more stringent than heating oil which has no specification for stability or storage life. The ASTM 06751 specification was set to ensure a biodiesel blend shelf life of a minimum of six months. Most testing indicates blends made with ASTM 06751 biodiesel will stay within specification for 12 months or longer in storage. You should treat Bioheat® blends like conventional home heating oil to protect the finished blend from fuel degradation associated with time and temperature.
Fact: In order for a fuel to be called Bioheat®, it can only be made with ASTM 06751 grade biodiesel.Raw vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oils-and any other product that does not meet ASTM standardsare NOT biodiesel and may cause serious problems. Beware of “imposter biodiesel” products claiming that they are just as good as biodiesel. Only ASTM 06751 grade biodiesel will provide the trouble-free usage and the benefits that have been proven with over $60 million in R&O over the last 15 years. A great way to insure you are getting quality Bioheat® is to purchase from companies certified under the biodiesel industry fuel quality program, BO-9000. See www.bq-9000.org for more information and a listing of the BO-9000 approved companies that consistently hit the ASTM quality mark.
Fact: The ASTM specifications have been set so that Biohea~ made with up to 5% biodiesel can be handled just as you would handle conventional heating oil. Since Biohea~ is a blend of biodiesel and heating oil, and the finished blends up to 5% biodiesel meet the same specs as heating oil, the same management practices used for traditional heating oil should be employed with Bioheat®. In most cases, this is all handled by the fuel dealer and, using these traditional management practices, high quality Bioheat® has been used successfully in the coldest climates. If you need more information regarding the best practices for addressing cold weather with Bioheat®, the National Biodiesel Board has set up the Biodiesel Education Network (BEN) and a feature called ‘Ask BEN’. You can get quick answers to your questions at the Ask BEN web site at http://www.biodiesel.org/askben.
Fact: Under the relatively new Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2), the US EPA has thoroughly evaluated biodiesel and has declared biodiesel an ‘Advanced Biofuel’. Advanced biofuels are only those biofuels produced on existing land and that meet the minimum threshold of over 50% reduction in life cycle carbon emissions compared to petrodiesel. Biodiesel easily meets or exceeds these requirements since the fats and oils used to make biodiesel are grown on existing land as by-products of producing food and provide an over 80% reduction in life cycle C02 emissions compared to petrodiesel. This recent declaration by EPA makes biodiesel the only commercially available diesel fuel alternative that falls under the ‘Advanced Biofuel’ category of RFS2. Biohea!® is now a cost effective option to meet the over 5 billion gallons of ‘Advanced Biofuels’ under the biomass based diesel and non-differentiated advanced categories of RFS2.
Fact: Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced each year from oils and fats that are a natural by-product of producing high quality meats, fried foods, and high protein soybean meal. In fact, the soybeans used to make biodiesel in the US in 2009 produced enough soybean meal for 72 billion rations of protein. Some studies have even shown that utilizing the by-product soybean oil actually makes the price of soybean meal less expensive. The basic rule of thumb is when demand for soybean oil increases, the price of the other soybean component (meal) decreases, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded study byCENTREC Consulting Group, LLC. Increasing demand for soybean oil benefits livestock feeders through lower meal prices. Biodiesel helps meet our nation’s energy AND food needs without using new land or drilling for-or importing-dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.
Fact: Biohea!® has been thoroughly tested. It has been deemed a comparable fuel to heating oil by ASTM. It has been endorsed by the Oilheat Manufacturers Association and the National Oilheat Research Alliance. Bioheat® is already in thousands of homes providing clean, reliable heat. Because of its renewable component, Bioheat® stands apart from other fuels when it comes to environmental stewardship, energy security and consumer confidence. Bioheat® is here to stay.
For more information about energy, visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration website.