Heat Your Home With Biodiesel

Heating your home with dirty fossil fuels in an oil furnace? Learn how to heat your home with biodiesel. This winter, add some biodiesel for a cleaner, greener burn.

| December 2003/January 2004

Learn how to heat your home with biodiesel. A biodiesel blend easily can be added to your fuel-furnace storage tank.

Heat Your Home With Biodiesel

Although it has been promoted mostly as a fuel for diesel-powered vehicles, biodiesel is perfectly suited as an additive or replacement fuel in a standard oil-fired furnace or boiler.

When used as a heating fuel, biodiesel is sometimes referred to as "biofuel" or "bioheat." Made from new and used vegetable oils or animal fats, this fuel also has the advantage of being biodegradable, nontoxic and renewable: While fossil fuels took millions of years to produce, fuel stocks for biodiesel can be created in just a few months, and the plants grown to make biodiesel naturally balance the carbon dioxide emissions created when the fuel is combusted. What's more, the resulting fuel is far less polluting than its petroleum-based alternative.

Biodiesel: A Hot Idea

The idea of using vegetable oil as a fuel source isn't a new one: In 1900, Rudolph Diesel, a German engineer for whom the diesel engine is named, used peanut oil to power one of his engines at the World Exposition.

Today, Rudolph Diesel's original idea of using vegetable oils as a fuel source has been revived with the development of biodiesel.

Technically a fatty acid, methyl ester, biodiesel is made by reacting a wood or grain alcohol, such as methanol or ethanol, with vegetable oil or animal fats. With the help of a sodium hydroxide (lye) catalyst, the reaction produces two products: biodiesel and glycerine. The process is relatively simple, although the chemicals required are caustic and need to be handled carefully.

4/24/2015 2:38:59 PM

This is an interesting idea! I had no idea that you could heat a home with biodiesel. Is it hard to get a hold of enough biodiesel to make this worthwhile. I'll have to look into this for our new rental home. Thanks for sharing these tips with us!

1/25/2014 6:58:01 AM

trying to utilize my bio to heat my garage since its to cold to run in the truck.....boiler guy says no.....?

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