Terms and Acronyms

Advanced Biofuels: A renewable fuel other than ethanol derived from cornstarch. Biodiesel is the only advanced biofuel that has reached nationwide commercial production across the United States. The advanced biofuel category can apply to a variety of fuels, including biomass-based diesel, biogas, butanol, or other alcohols and fuels derived from cellulosic biomass. Advanced biofuels reduce lifecycle emissions by more than 50% compared to petroleum and are the optimal alternative fuel as defined by federal law.

Alternative Fuel: Any fuel not derived from the conventional crude oil refining process, including biodiesel or ethanol.

ASTM Standards: All engines are designed and manufactured for a fuel that has certain characteristics. In the US, the global standards development organization that defines the specifications and test methods for fuels is the ASTM International. ASTM fuel standards are the minimum accepted values for properties of the fuel to provide adequate engine performance. Learn more


Technical — A fuel comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long-chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, designated B100, and meeting the requirements of ASTM D 6751.

Standard — A clean-burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is the first fuel commercially produced nationwide that meets US EPA’s definition of an advanced biofuel. Synonyms include methyl esters and fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Learn more

Biodiesel Blends: A blend of biodiesel fuel, meeting ASTM D 6751, with diesel fuel oils, designated BXX, where XX represents the volume percentage of biodiesel fuel in the blend. Examples include: B5, B20, and B100.

Biofuel: Broad term that encompasses any liquid fuel made from renewable biomass. The most common types of biofuels in use today are ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable hydrocarbon diesel.

Bioheat®: A traditional home heating oil blended with biodiesel. Learn more

Biomass-Based Diesel: A category of diesel fuel derived from biological feedstocks, including soybean oil, rendered animal fats, and used cooking oils, that can be used to comply with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program.

BQ-9000: The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel called BQ-9000®. The program is a unique combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices. BQ-9000® is open to any biodiesel manufacturer, marketer, or distributor of biodiesel and biodiesel blends in the United States and Canada. Learn more

Byproducts: A secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from agricultural byproducts such as soybean oil, animal fats, and recycled cooking oil. In addition, glycerin is a co-product of biodiesel production and is often used as an animal food ingredient.

Clean Fleet: A group of vehicles of a municipality, organization, or community that use cleaner than traditional technologies to power their engines. Many clean fleets are powered with biodiesel to produce healthier, cleaner air.

Ethanol: A renewable, domestically produced fuel made from corn, sugar cane, or grasses. Ethanol is a fuel alternative to conventional gasoline that is most commonly sold to consumers as a 10-15% blend in gasoline but can be used in higher blends in flex-fuel vehicles. Ethanol is not biodiesel, but it is considered another renewable fuel or biofuel.

Feedstocks: A common industry term to describe the raw materials used to supply biodiesel production. Biodiesel producers are utilizing a wide-ranging mix of feedstocks, such as recycled cooking oil, agricultural oils such as soybean and canola oil, animal fats, and other byproducts such as distillers corn oil. Soybean oil remains the most used feedstock with nearly 50% market share.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG): The release of any gaseous compound that traps heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up the majority of GHG emissions. Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by over 80% compared to petroleum-based diesel.

Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC): A now disproven theory from the late 2000s that tried to tie indirect effects of US agriculture to changes in land use around the world — specifically in the rainforests of South America. No crops are grown exclusively for biodiesel production, so it doesn’t lead to the clearing of the land in other parts of the world. Biodiesel is the first commercially available fuel to meet the EPA’s definition of an advanced biofuel. The environmental requirements of the RFS protect forests and native grasslands and ensure renewable fuels have multiple environmental benefits over fossil fuels. More on the science of ILUC theory and biodiesel’s sustainability story

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM): A company that produces parts or equipment used in the production of engines or vehicles. Learn more

Particulate Matter: Particulate matter, an emission linked to asthma and other diseases, is reduced by about 47%, and carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, is reduced by about 48% when using biodiesel.

Petroleum Diesel: Conventional fuel used to power compression ignition (diesel) engines, that is traditionally a middle distillate derived from petroleum refining.

Refinery: Industrial process plant where crude oil is refined into a variety of products including gasoline, diesel, and propane.

Renewable Diesel (Renewable Hydrocarbon Diesel): Defined in the Internal Revenue Code as liquid fuel produced from renewable biomass meeting the same fuel specifications as diesel fuel (ASTM D975) and/or heating oil (ASTM D396). It is similar to biodiesel in its feedstock and end-use in diesel engines but goes through a different refining process.

Renewable Fuel: Fuels produced from renewable resources including plant material, agricultural byproducts, and others. Biodiesel is an example of a renewable fuel, but not all renewable fuels are biodiesel.

Renewable Fuel Standard: A U.S. government policy enacted in 2005 and expanded in 2007 that requires minimum amounts of renewable fuels to be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. The RFS is working to create American jobs, reduce pollution and carbon emissions, and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil imports. Under the RFS, Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency to maintain renewable fuel success with continued, sustainable growth to support the biodiesel industry and job creation. The RFS requires a minimum of 1 billion gallons of advanced biofuels be blended annually beginning in 2010, rising to 21 billion gallons by 2022. Learn more

Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs): RINs are the mechanism used by the Environmental Protection Agency to track compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). A RIN is a serial number assigned to each gallon of biofuel produced in the U.S. and used for tracking purposes and trading.

Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs): Volumes established every year based on projections of gasoline and diesel usage for the coming year under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Sustainability: Meeting today’s needs for environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and quality of life without compromising future generations’ ability to meet these needs for themselves. Learn more

Transesterification: A chemical process to produce methyl esters (biodiesel), whereby the crude glycerin is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products — methyl esters (biodiesel) and glycerin (valuable byproduct usually sold to be used in soaps and other products). By definition, a fuel is not biodiesel unless it is produced by the transesterification process.