NBB In Sight

Fleets flocking to biodiesel should follow these recommendations
By Steve Howell | January 01, 2006
The recent flurry of favorable biodiesel conditions has encouraged many fleets to switch to B20 (a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel). We welcome these new users into the biodiesel family, but we also wish to start them off with some friendly advice including common-sense recommendations for a successful transition.

Two guides can set fleets on their way to successful biodiesel use: The newly issued Technical Recommendations for B20 Fleet Use Based on Existing Data from the B20 Fleet Evaluation Team (FET) and the Biodiesel Storage and Handling Guidelines. Links to both of these documents can be found on the National Biodiesel Board's (NBB) Web site, www.biodiesel.org.

The FET findings are the result of a joint project among the NBB, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the U.S. DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Due to space constraints, here are four of its key recommendations:
- Make sure your fuel meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) specification D6751 before it's blended
with diesel.
-Follow shelf life and stability guidelines of using biodiesel within six months.
-Be aware of B20's cold weather properties and take appropriate precautions.
-Demand fuel from BQ-9000 accredited producers and certified marketers.

Quality is key. In fact, some cases of filter clogging in the field have been reported with out-of-spec fuels or in cases where higher blends are used without taking the necessary precautions. Although these issues are the exception and not the rule, they prove the importance of proper handling and use of spec fuel from a supplier who will stand behind his or her fuel. That's why the NBB established BQ-9000, a quality control program that helps assure consumers that their supplier sells spec fuel. Following the B20 FET guidance can make B20 use seamless to the user.

With high diesel prices and more cost-competitive biodiesel, some users are starting to try blends above B20. While there has been successful use of blends over B20, additional precautions are necessary when using higher blends, especially in cold temperatures. There are a significant amount of additional concerns with the use of blends higher than B20, and use of these blends can't be considered "seamless." A list of issues with the use of greater-than-B20 blends can be found in the NBB guidance, Use of Biodiesel Blends Above 20 Percent Biodiesel.

This is an exciting time for biodiesel. In the face of rapid growth, our industry is determined to keep biodiesel's reputation as a high-quality fuel. This starts with production but ends with the user. The user has the power to ensure that using biodiesel is a positive experience.

Please visit www.biodiesel.org/buyingbiodiesel for more specifics on the use of B20 in fleets. By following these simple, common-sense measures, reducing dependence on foreign oil and cleaning up emissions has never been so easy.
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