Bioethanol is for petrol vehicles
Bioethanol comes from whey, a dairy by-product. It’s mixed with ordinary petrol to make a bioethanol blend. Most new and many older vehicles can use bioethanol-blended petrol.
Biodiesel is for diesel vehicles
Biodiesel comes from used cooking oil or tallow, a meat by-product. It’s mixed with ordinary diesel to make a biodiesel blend. All diesel vehicles can safely use a 5% biodiesel blend.
Different blends for different engines
Bioethanol blends are often called E3 or E10
The numbers refer to the percentage of bioethanol in the blend – so either 3% or 10% biofuel.
You can put either blend in most new and many older vehicles. You can switch with regular petrol at any time – it’s no problem to mix them in your tank.
Bioethanol-blended petrol will work in almost any land-based petrol engine, from lawn mowers to generators.
- The first time you use bioethanol-blended petrol, make it a big fill rather than a top-up. This will help to absorb any water that might be in your tank.
- Fuel with a very high bioethanol content (such as E85) can only be used in flexible-fuel vehicles (also known as flex-fuel or duel-fuel). It can seriously damage a standard vehicle engine.
- Don’t use bioethanol-blended petrol in marine or aviation applications unless the whole operation is specifically designed for it, and any required authorisation has been obtained.
Biodiesel blends are often called B5, B7 or B20
The numbers relate to the percentage of biodiesel in the blend. All diesel vehicles can safely use B5, which has 5% biodiesel, and many can use a 7% blend (B7).
You can use biodiesel blends in almost any diesel engine - including earth moving equipment, tractors, generators or boats.
You can switch between biodiesel blends and regular diesel at any time – it’s no problem to mix them in your tank.
Higher blends such as B20 and up to B100 (100% biodiesel) can be used in some large commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses, if a few simple steps are followed. Check with your vehicle or engine manufacturer and with a knowledgeable specialist about the blend that's suitable for your vehicles. You may need a written contract with the supplier to show you understand what you’re buying.
You might need to change your filter
Biofuels have stronger cleaning properties than regular petrol or diesel and can loosen dirt in the engine. If you haven’t changed your fuel filter for a while, change it after the first few fills of biofuel.
Not sure about using a blend?
Check your vehicle's handbook, or ask the equipment supplier.