Engine manufacturers create B20 test specs

By | August 01, 2006
The U.S.-based Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) has developed a test specification for B20 that could be a positive signal for adherents of higher biodiesel blends.

The association, which represents engine manufacturers and sponsors scientific and technical research to improve engine performance and testing, established the B20 test spec at the urging of its members, according to Joe Suchecki, the EMA's director of public affairs. To date, several engine and vehicle manufacturers have approved the use of biodiesel blends up to B5. Few have stepped beyond that threshold, however, and growing interest in higher blends-particularly B20-has pushed manufacturers to evaluate how those blends affect engine durability, performance and emissions.

Specifically, the EMA test specification establishes a baseline for B20, and with that, manufacturers can start or continue tests and evaluations of various blends below 20 percent biodiesel. "The specification provides a good set of characteristics and properties that we think are needed for biodiesel fuel," Suchecki said, adding that it's important to know how compatible higher biodiesel blends are with today's clean-burning diesel vehicle engines. The spec will help experts determine that, he said.

An EMA press release stated that biodiesel should meet BQ-9000 production standards, the voluntary biodiesel quality management program overseen by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC). Fuel quality mishaps happen for various reasons but are typically associated with fuel leaving a production facility off-spec, or falling off-spec downstream. Suchecki said the B20 spec, along with the BQ-9000 program, will help stop those mistakes from happening.

Like BQ-9000, the EMA B20 test spec is not required on any sort of state or federal level. However, the EMA would like to see its spec spur the development of a national biodiesel blend standard, Suchecki said, adding that the organization's leaders believe there is a clear need for such a fuel quality benchmark.

Leland Tong, chairman of the NBAC, was encouraged by the appearance of a B20 test spec, and he applauded engine manufacturers for the effort. "I think it's a step in the right direction," he said, explaining that it is especially encouraging that the spec is tailored for blends as high as B20.

Possible changes to the ASTM biodiesel standard, D 6751, were examined during a June ASTM meeting, Tong said (see page 15). The changes being considered could mark the beginning of harmonization between U.S. and European biodiesel standards.

Jeep Liberty CRD no longer for sale in the U.S.
The EMA's B20 test spec came not long after DaimlerChrysler stopped offering its diesel-burning Jeep Liberty CRD-a vehicle that came factory-filled with B5-for sale in the United States. The decision came, in part, because the vehicle-under its current configuration-didn't meet 2007 emissions standards, according to Max Gates, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler.

Jeep Liberty CRDs will still be manufactured in the United States but will be shipped to Europe where the diesel market is more established. The company is still testing the U.S. market for diesel vehicles, Gates said. DaimlerChrysler won't immediately release large numbers of diesel vehicles in the United States until it has a good understanding of emissions regulations and confidence in the customer base, Gates said.

In place of the Jeep Liberty, DaimlerChrysler is releasing a diesel version of its Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2007. Like the Liberty, these vehicles will leave the factory with B5 in their tanks, Gates said. The company will work with the same partners, biodiesel producer Peter Cremer North America and BP, for blending.
 
 
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