Skip to Content

What are biofuels

Biofuels usually come in the form of biodiesel (as an alternative to diesel) and bioethanol (as an alternative to petrol).  Biofuels are normally used as a blend with ordinary diesel or petrol.

Biodiesel

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is similar to ordinary diesel but is made from vegetable oils or animal fats. Blended with ordinary mineral diesel, it makes a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel has good combustion and lubrication properties, making it a good option for your engine.

What are biodiesel blends?

When biodiesel (100% biodiesel) is mixed with ordinary diesel, this makes a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel blends are often referred to as B5 or B20. These names relate to the percentage of biodiesel in the blend. B5 for example means 5% of the blend is biodiesel, and the rest is ordinary diesel.

In New Zealand biodiesel will be available for retail sale as a blend comprising up to B5 (5% biodiesel and 95% ordinary diesel). A 5% blend is the maximum allowed for retail sale but higher blends can be sold directly to commercial users where there is a written contract for supply.

What can biodiesel be made from?

Biodiesel in New Zealand is likely to come from tallow (a by-product of meat processing), used cooking oil, and from rapeseed grown as a break crop.

Overseas biodiesel blends are also produced from soy bean oil and palm oil. No biodiesel for sale in New Zealand uses either of these feedstocks. 

Bioethanol

What is bioethanol?

Bioethanol is similar to ordinary petrol but is made from wastes and plants. Blended with ordinary petrol, this makes bioethanol-blended petrol.

Worldwide, more than 200 million vehicles are filling up on bioethanol-blended petrol.

What is bioethanol-blended petrol?

When bioethanol is mixed with ordinary petrol, this makes bioethanol-blended petrol. Like biodiesel blends, bioethanol-blended petrol names relate to the percentage of bioethanol in the blend. Bioethanol-blended petrol is often referred to as E5 or E10. E10 for example means 10% of the blend is bioethanol, and the rest is ordinary petrol.

In New Zealand bioethanol-blended petrol is available in blends of up to 10% (E10).

What can bioethanol be made from?

Bioethanol in New Zealand is produced as a by-product of the dairy industry, and is also imported from Brazil where it is made from sugarcane. Overseas bioethanol-blended petrol is produced from maize (corn) and sugar beet.

Looking to the future, a lot of work is happening around the world on producing bioethanol from wood waste (wood chips etc) and household waste (paper, pulp, and sewage).