With growing challenges surrounding United States oil imports, American-made renewable fuels are taking on an important role in strengthening the nation's energy security. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), along with its members, believe alternative fuel sources like biodiesel have a growing presence in supporting the overall solution for decreasing the country's dependence on foreign oil while boosting the economy and protecting the environment.

Balanced Benefits of Biodiesel
Made from renewable resources like soybean oil, fats and vegetable oils, biodiesel works in any diesel engine and is usually blended with petroleum diesel. As further defined by the ASFMRA, a nationally recognized farm management and rural appraisal organization, it can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications, is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic and essentially free of sulfur.

Gary Thien, President of Thien Farm Management, Incorporated, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, says fossil fuels currently supply the majority of the world's energy, and is expected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While fossil fuel supplies are currently abundant, Thien says current volumes won't last forever.

"Foreign oil production is on the decline yet energy demands are increasing as world population rates soar, economies grow and Third World nations develop," he says. "Accessible energy and power sources drive economic development, which in turn increases demand for still more energy."

According to Thien, the big question for U.S. energy security will be "where will our fuel come from and what kinds of energy resource changes are forthcoming?"

Part of the answer includes renewable energy sources like biofuels, solar, wind, hydro and geothermal, which are all self-replenishing and clean, and currently contributing to 15 percent of the world's energy supply.

"Solar power, wind turbines and geothermal energy are all expanding as technology improves and their operating costs become more competitive," he says. "Biofuels including biodiesel and ethanol are also receiving high marks as a quality alternative and viable fuel sources in both the commercial and consumer marketplace. Biodiesel especially is an excellent substitute or extender for traditional petroleum diesel and is adaptable to all types of diesel engines," he says. "It's readily available and is a renewable fuel source with far reaching benefits."

Data released by The National Biodiesel Board report U.S. refineries sold 25 million gallons of pure biodiesel in 2004, and tripled that number to 75 million gallons in 2005. It's estimated that 150 million gallons of biodiesel will be produced in 2007 - with that number possibly reaching as high as 250 million gallons.

Thien, an Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) and Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA), outlines as follows key advantages of this unique fuel alternative product.