Alternative Fuels

Substitutes for Petroleum

Alternative fuels can be substituted for traditional gasoline or diesel fuels. The federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 identifies six such fuels listed below. Alternative fuels may be used either as a replacement for gasoline or in conjunction with it. All alternative fuels can be domestically produced, and most provide significant air quality benefits when used as a vehicle fuel.


Biodiesel is produced from different types of oils, but, in South Carolina, primarily from soybean oil and animal fats. Future feedstocks could include algae oil and oils from other native crops. Biodiesel is commonly blended into diesel in a range from two percent to 99 percent. However, the most common blend is called B20 which contains 80 percent regular diesel mixed with 20 percent biodiesel.

Low level blends of biodiesel, like B5, can be used in all diesel vehicles. However, medium to high level blends of biodiesel (B20, B75) should only be used in diesel vehicles that have been designed to operate with medium to high levels of biodiesel. Contact the SCEO or your local dealership to find out if your vehicle can use medium to high levels of biodiesel. Biodiesel’s solvent effect may release deposits that have accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel use. The release of these deposits may clog filters initially, but long-term use of biodiesel results in lower maintenance costs.

Currently, five publicly-accessible B20 pumps are available in South Carolina, and every state-owned diesel pump must contain a minimum of B5.