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Renewable diesel vs biodiesel

Renewable Diesel vs Biodiesel: What is the difference?

Renewable diesel, or HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil), is sometimes confused with biodiesel or FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester). The main differences between the two are found in their chemical compositions, performances in cold weather and storage qualities.

For example, Neste MY Renewable Diesel™ is produced through a hydrotreatment process. The result is an HVO diesel that has a similar chemical composition to fossil diesel. This chemical resemblance enables renewable diesel to be used in all diesel engines in up to a 100% concentration, or to be blended in any ratio with fossil diesel.

Biodiesel contains oxygen, making it different from both fossil diesel and renewable diesel and renewable diesel and therefore it can not act as a 100% substitute. Nearly all OEMs limit biodiesel content to 20% with some only allowing 5%.


Neste’s proprietary technology

Neste MY Renewable Diesel is made using a unique combination of hydrotreating and isomerization that enables a wide variety of low quality waste and residues to be turned into high-quality fuels and other renewable products. Regardless of which raw materials are used, the quality of the final HVO product is always the same. This is a big difference compared to biodiesel which is produced through an esterification process. This does not offer the same guarantee in quality as properties of FAME depend largely on what raw materials are used and can vary between producers. 

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High cetane number

A cetane number indicates ignition properties. It also signifies how well an engine starts in cold weather and it contributes to cleaner and more efficient combustion. The higher the cetane number, the quicker the engine starts. Neste MY Renewable Diesel has a cetane number above 70, whereas neat biodiesel typically has a cetane number between 50 and 60, and the cetane number of the allowed biodiesel blends are even lower, closer to that of fossil diesel.


Cold temperatures 

Neste MY Renewable Diesel’s cloud point, which indicates when fuel starts to be affected by cold temperatures, is as low as  -4°F (-20°C) for Winter grade and 10°F (-12°C) for the summer grade. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is made for cold conditions. This is not the case for biodiesel, as it can greatly be affected by cooler temperatures, depending on which raw materials were used.

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No limit for storage time

Neste MY Renewable Diesel is very stable and can be stored for extended periods of time, without any risk that its properties change. Unlike biodiesel, Neste’s renewable diesel also does not attract water. This means that with the right handling and storage, there is very little risk of quality deterioration or microbial growth.

Neste MY Renewable Diesel: Product Factsheet

Download the Neste MY Product factsheet and share it with your colleagues. 


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*The European standard for diesel (EN590) limits the proportion of biodiesel (FAME EN14214) to max. 7%. In fact, engine and vehicle manufacturers widely support the development of HVO fuels as a way to increase diesel fuel’s renewable content to reduce emissions without the concerns associated with FAMEs.

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