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The Pros and Cons of Biodiesel Fuel Use in Diesel Engines

Biodiesel is a nonpetroleum-based fuel that can be used with a few modifications in diesel engines manufactured after 1987. It is an alternative fuel for diesel engines in the USDA Forest Service fleet. Because biodiesel is derived from soybeans or vegetable oils and animal fats, the cooking oils dumped by restaurants and fast food eateries can be used as a source of this fuel.

The tech tip, Biodiesel Fuel Use in Diesel Engines (0451–1309P–SDTDC) from the San Dimas Technology and Development Center (SDTDC), describes both the benefits and disadvantages of biodiesel. The U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park, and the city of Berkeley, CA, use biodiesel in their fleets of buses, garbage trucks, and utility vehicles.

USDA Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management employees can access the SDTDC fire program's Web site at: electronic version of this tech tip can be found at:

For more information about biodiesel use, contact Ron Tam, project leader (phone: 909–599–1267, ext. 274; e-mail:

[photo] A biodiesel fuel pump.

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Disclaimer: The Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has developed this information for the guidance of its employees, its contractors, and its cooperating Federal and State agencies, and is not responsible for the interpretation or use of this information by anyone except its own employees. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this document is for the information and convenience of the reader, and does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202–720–2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call 202–720–5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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