I’ll be honest with you, when I first read the term “renewable diesel” I thought for sure I had come across yet another attempt by fossil fuel lobbyists to greenwash another one of their dirty products. Like “clean coal”, I assumed it was another political pipe dream to continue selling to a public that is becoming evermore weary of the deleterious effects of a warming climate. So I took to the internet expecting to material to write a scathing expose of this deception. Instead, what I found was an intriguing green technology poised to become in high demand.
Currently, renewable diesel is produced through a number of innovative processes, including SWESTEP’s patented catalytic pressureless depolymerization process. Renewable diesel is not just another name for biodiesel. This is an important distinction because specifications for the two are different, meaning they are chemically distinct. According to the United States Department of Energy, renewable diesel is any oil product derived from a renewable source that can be used in place of traditional diesel, without engine modifications (ASTM D975 specified). In contrast, standard diesel engines cannot run on biodiesel and vice versa. The modification required to convert between the two isn’t terrible complex or expensive for a single vehicle, but when the numbers rise as they do when dealing with an industrial fleet, and considering the low availability of biodiesel, it’s no wonder so few have made the switch in the 50 plus years they’ve been on the market.
From an environmental viewpoint, the major advantage of renewable diesel, besides the obvious fact that it can be produced from a renewable resource, is that it produces significantly less harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, compared to traditional diesel. According to Neste, the world’s leading renewable diesel vendor, the reduction in carbon emissions is just shy of 80%!
While I hope that you are all reading this because you care enough to leave our planet in working order for generations to come, I also have some good news for the more economically driven among you. The prognosis for market demand of renewable diesel is bullish. Already leading economies such Europe and California are mandate renewable diesel requirements, causing demand to outstrip supply. Numerous facilities are expected to come online to meet current demand plus as more governments slowly enact tighter green standards demand will continue to grow.