Purdue University, www.purdue.edu

A researcher at Purdue University has discovered that a blend of No. 2 fuel oil, a common petroleum-based heating fuel, with 20% of degummed soybean oil will perform just as well as 100% fuel oil but with fewer sulphur emissions. Plus, if widely used, the blend would cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The scientist, Klein Ileleji, tested blends of 20%, 50%, and 100% degummed soybean oil, which is an unrefined and less-expensive fuel than soy methyl esters, commonly known as biodiesel. The 20% blend does not degrade home-furnace components or reduce the heat output. It does, however, slightly degrade furnace seals and gaskets, which could be remedied by using better quality parts. Increasing the soy oil content more than 20% reduced the fuel’s flashpoint, making it more difficult to ignite, and also lowered its heat output.