The heating oil industry in Massachusetts is committed to steadily reducing carbon emissions by providing customers with Bioheat fuel, also known as biodiesel and biofuel – a liquid renewable energy source that is blended with traditional heating oil.
Biodiesel is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program. Biodiesel is nontoxic, biodegradable, and renewable. Biodiesel is produced from a variety of “feedstocks” including agricultural by-products and coproducts, such as used cooking oil, animal fats, inedible corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. These products are refined into high-quality liquid fuels that meet rigorous standards set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).
According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces life cycle carbon emissions by up to 86%.
For over 20 years, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has conducted extensive testing on how biodiesel operates with new and existing heating equipment. Much of this research has focused on blends of 20% or lower and the research has shown that customers using biodiesel blends meeting ASTM standards require no modifications to their heating systems. Small adjustments to a heating system by a service technician may be required to optimize biodiesel blends above 20%.
In a 2015 report to the U.S. Congress, NORA stated that the heating oil industry’s transition to biodiesel blends “improves efficiency and reduces pollution from heating systems.” And today, 80 heating oil companies across Massachusetts participate in a program overseen by the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER) that encourages the use of biodiesel blends. According to DOER, the program allows heating oil companies to “contribute to the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals by increasing energy efficiency and reducing the need for conventional fossil fuel-based power generation.”