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Bioheat: An Alternative Heating Oil

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts an increase in home heating bills by 15 % this winter, and political leaders are talking about the need to reduce dependence of the United States on foreign sources of oil. As an alternative to the regular heating oil, producing biodiesel domestically and blending it with heating oil is a practice that is gaining force. As industry officials said, “Bioheat” offers a cost-competitive substitute to regular heating oil. This alternative oil is developing and increasing in availability, especially in the northeast.

Biodiesel is made from renewable resources, such as natural fats and oils, has a cleaner burning and can be used to power oil boilers and furnaces. This helps raise the energy security of the country and lower emissions considerably. Biodiesel is primarily used to fuel vehicles, but it can be blended as well with regular No.2 heating oil or low sulfur heating oil. This blend of biodiesel with heating oil has come to be known as bioheat.

Recently, two companies have joined an increasing number of energy retailers in the northeast which provide bioheat to a large number of customers. Additionally, in the state of Maine, bioheat has gained popularity and its use has expanded. This state is currently using a biodiesel blend to heat the State House, the State Museum and the Cross State Office Building, among several other buildings in the area.

In November 1, Mass Biofuel, a company of Dedham, Massachusetts, started to offer customers a blend of soy biodiesel and low sulfur heating oil. Bob Warren, president of the company, says that although the marketing efforts have just started, the initial customer response has been amazingly positive. Worley & Obetz Inc. in Manheim, Pennsylvania, is another company which also offers bioheat to its customers. They estimate an average of 5 gallons of renewable fuel in each home heating oil delivery.

The development of the biodiesel industry in the United States was founded in great part by the United Soybean Board along with the state soybean board checkoff programs. Soybean farmers invested millions of dollars in order to bring biodiesel into the commercial success that it is now. These days, biodiesel and its blends are the fastest growing substitute fuel in the United States.

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