Consumer Awareness, Use, and Perceptions of Biodiesel

Donald M. Johnson, Leslie D. Edgar, Don W. Edgar

Abstract


Biodiesel is a liquid transportation fuel produced primarily by transesterification of vegetable oils, waste grease, or animal fats and used as a replacement fuel in diesel engines. Fuel customers (N = 134) at three northwest [state] retail fuel outlets were interviewed to determine their awareness, use, and perceptions of biodiesel. A majority (70.7%) of customers was aware of biodiesel; however, only 6.7% had ever purchased biodiesel. Respondents aware of biodiesel (n = 94) responded to a series of 10 statements to assess their perceptions of biodiesel. A large number of respondents were uncertain of biodiesel’s quality (41.5%), performance (44.2%), and effects on engine repair and maintenance (52.1%). Despite these uncertainties, only 12.9% either agreed or strongly agreed they would never use biodiesel. A majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it was better to use biodiesel because it is renewable (88.1%) and that use of non-food crops to produce biodiesel was justified (76.6%). Respondents were almost evenly divided in their levels of agreement with using food crops to produce biodiesel (strongly disagree or disagree = 45.2%; strongly agree or agree = 47.3%). Sizeable percentages of students were undecided if biodiesel reduced harmful exhaust emission (36.2%) or if increased biodiesel use would decrease global warming (43.0%). To the extent these consumers are typical of others, the need exists to develop and implement programs to educate consumers and voters about biodiesel.


Keywords


biodiesel; consumers; awareness, perceptions; use

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