As agricultural producers adopt new biofuels like biodiesel and vegetable oils, they need to be concerned about issues such as fuel quality, engine maintenance and performance.
Biofuels - Articles


Penn State's Biofuels Extension Team, in conjunction with our Penn State Farm Operations staff, has worked with equipment manufacturers to demonstrate the use of biodiesel, bio lubricants and other alternative fuels to assess its potential for widespread use in farm and transportation.

These demonstrations have provided a foundation for educational programs for use of biodiesel and alternative fuels in Pennsylvania and their potential impact on the economy.


New fuels such as biodiesel require careful study and attention to many details before they can be used widely.

Critical issues include:

  • the impact of the fuels on engine performance, reliability, maintenance and warranty issues
  • the operating conditions for the fuel
  • the issues associated with manufacturing, storage and distribution


Petroleum lubricants are widely used but can result in expensive clean up costs when spills or a loss from equipment occurs in sensitive environments.

Our demonstrations of biobased lubricants have shown that:

  • Use of environmentally friendly bio based lubricants can help to reduce or eliminate these costs.
  • they can be effective alternative to conventional petroleum based lubricants
  • They provide a value added use for agricultural commodities used in their production.

Biofuel Production Issues

The production of bio based fuels on both the small and the large scale is complex and can involve many economic, safety and environmental issues.

One example is the production of biodiesel on a small scale.

  • Biodiesel production involves the use of strong bases and alcohols, such as methanol. Handling and disposal of these and other co products requires careful attention to avoid causing health or environmental issues.
  • Quality control to avoid the production of substandard fuel and engine performance issues that can result.
  • Government policies on use and production of biodiesel that are still under development and not well understood by the industry.

By working with key partners in industry, government agencies and other institutions, Extension has developed some key considerations for small scale biodiesel producers to consider before developing a production facility.