Wrapping up the 2009 Show

Random thoughts from the Conference
By Ron Kotrba | February 04, 2009
As I write this posting it is 6:15am on Wednesday, the last day of the National Biodiesel Conference. What a great idea for the NBB to hold the conference in such a wonderful city like San Francisco where cable cars, biodiesel and cultural diversity are in abundance. I was the only writer from Biodiesel Magazine here in San Francisco covering the event. Having been kept so extremely busy covering the three general sessions, taking photographs, and attending technical sessions, I barely got to roam the tradeshow floor. I made it down there daily, of course, for a quick bite to eat and a soda, and maybe to say hello to a few people I saw along the way, but I wish I could have spent more time there checking out all of the booths and attractions.

I ran into Mike Youngerberg, exectutive director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council. He set the record straight on filter pluggings that occurred just less than a month ago in Bloomington, Minn. It was found that 12 of the 109 buses from the bus fleet were experiencing problems. This was at a time when the ambient air temperature was minus 25 F, actual temps. I remember this because I live well north of Bloomington in Northwest Minnesota and we had actual temperatures of minus 35 F temps. All 12 buses were found to have their fuel filters outside the engine compartment meaning none of that heat from the engine helped warm the filter.

This topic of fuel filters in some diesel applications being outside the engine compartment was also discussed in one or more of the technical sessions. Three filters were collected from buses that were having plugging issues. When one of the filters was cut open, it was packed full of a wax substance. At room temperature, the wax liquefied and went into solution clearly it wasn't glycerin noted Mike, because glycerin would have required much warmer temperatures to resolvate. He said when temperatures drop so low it's common for paraffin wax from the ULSD No. 2 fuel to drop out of solution causing filters to plug.

Mike said the immediate response from some people after this occurred was, "It's the biodiesel," but that's ridiculous thank the "brilliant" engineers thirty plus years ago for putting the filter outside the engine compartment where its temperature will be that of the outside temperature. Mike gave me a copy of the lab report in which it states that analyses did not detect any monoglycerides, sterols or free glycerin.

Well, it looks like next year the conference is back in Texas, the state in which it was held in 2007. Hey, maybe Merle Haggard will come back. I love that dude.