Using biofuel and biodiesel

Biofuel and biodiesel have become common terms during the past 15 years. We know there is an interest in using biofuels with Perkins engines. For anyone not familiar with biofuels and biodiesel, we have put together a short guide as well as explaining which types of biodiesel you can use in our engines.

What is biodiesel?

‘Standard’ diesel is petroleum based. It’s non-renewable and comes from oil. Biofuels, on the other hand, primarily come from plants and are viewed as renewable fuel and energy sources.

There are several types of biofuels including:

  • Bioethanol – mainly derived from fermenting sugar. Sources include corn, wheat and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Biodiesel (FAME) – fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) usually obtained from vegetable oils
  • Biomethanol – derived from methane or, historically, wood. Biomethanol can be used in combination with gasoline or on its own (‘neat’)
  • Ethanol – derived from alcohol

Other sources for biofuels include used cooking oil, rapeseed (Canola) and soybean oil.

Biofuel such as biodiesel & B20 biodiesel can be derived from plant crops
Biodiesel can be derived from plant crops

Are biofuels popular?

The availability and uptake of biofuels varies from country to country. In the U.S., biodiesel has proved popular as the country has worked to reduce its dependence on petroleum oil, much of which is imported. According to the U.S. Energy Department’s monthly biodiesel report, in June 2014 alone, 70 million gallons of B100 (100 percent biodiesel) was sold and an additional 41 million gallons of biodiesel blended with diesel fuel derived from petroleum. With blending, biodiesel is not replacing petroleum diesel but is instead extending the availability of the limited resource. In the UK, the government estimates that renewable fuel makes up around 3.7 percent of total road and non-road mobile machinery fuel, which is around 474 million litres per year.

What blends are available?

Biodiesel is available in a variety of concentrations. The names indicate the level of biodiesel in the product relative to petroleum diesel.

  • B100 is pure biodiesel
  • B20 is 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel
  • B5 is five percent biodiesel, 95 percent petroleum diesel
  • B2 is two percent biodiesel, 98 percent petroleum diesel

Can I use biodiesel with a Perkins engine?

Our recommendation is to operate our industrial engines using a B20 biodiesel blend. This has been confirmed with our in-house validation process following tests on the durability and performances of our engines using biodiesel.


Fast facts

  • Sources of biofuel include cooking oil, rapeseed and soybean oil.
  • In June 2014 alone, 70 million gallons of B100 biodiesel was sold in the U.S.
  • Perkins industrial engines operate properly using a B20 biodiesel blend

1100 Series

1100 Series

B20 biodiesel can be used with the 1103, 1104 and 1106 Series Perkins industrial engines.

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1200 Series

1200 Series

B20 biodiesel can be used with the 1204 and 1206 Series Perkins industrial engines.

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