Voluntary biodiesel fuel quality program continues to expand

By | March 15, 2007
After three years of exponential growth that has seen biodiesel demand triple each year, the industry continues to tackle the challenge of enforcing fuel quality standards. During the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in San Antonio, Texas, the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission announced that six more companies achieved BQ-9000 accredited and certified status. BQ-9000 is a voluntary quality control program.

"Achieving the ASTM standard on every batch is critical to protect consumers and maintain the reputation of biodiesel as a high-quality, high-performance fuel," said Ed Hegland, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Technical Committee chairman. "We encourage all biodiesel producers and marketers to achieve and maintain certification under the BQ-9000 program. Quality is critical. Consumers deserve to have their vehicles work without having to think about their fuel."

There are currently six BQ-9000 certified biodiesel marketers and 17 accredited biodiesel producers, which account for more than 40 percent of the biodiesel production capacity in the United States. Most recently, Western Iowa Energy in Wall Lake, Iowa; Stepan Company in Northfield, Ill.; and Seattle Biodiesel in Seattle became the latest accredited biodiesel producers. Western States Petroleum in Phoenix; FUMPA Biofuels in Redwood Falls, Minn.; and TransMontaigne in Denver also became certified biodiesel marketers.

BQ-9000 helps companies improve their fuel testing procedures and reduces the chances of producing or distributing out-of-spec fuel. The program is a unique combination of the ASTM D 6751 standard for biodiesel and a quality control system that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution and fuel management practices. To receive accreditation, companies must develop a quality control manual and pass a rigorous review of their quality control processes by an independent auditor.

State and federal fuel quality outreach programs are also part of the industry's efforts to enhance biodiesel fuel quality. The NBB has asked government agencies to adopt fuel quality standards for biodiesel and enforce them. Last summer, the NBB board members approved a comprehensive fuel-quality policy that directs the NBB to work diligently with all state and federal agencies with authority to regulate and enforce fuel quality.

The NBB's Fuel Quality Outreach Program has made contact with all state divisions of weights and measures and encouraged them to adopt ASTM D 6751. At the National Conference of Weights and Measures Interim Meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., the NBB recommended that states aggressively enforce ASTM D 6751 by taking samples of B100 at biodiesel plants, with pipeline terminals and bulk distributors taking appropriate legal action if out-of-spec fuel is found.

The NBB also encouraged each state to become familiar with the BQ-9000 quality certification and accreditation program, and all producers and marketers to become BQ-9000 certified or accredited. Currently, half of the states have adopted the ASTM D 6751 specification as part of their fuel quality regulations, and an additional 13 states are planning to adopt the specification or are studying it. Ten states now proactively test biodiesel or biodiesel blends.

The NBB has developed an online Fuel Quality Enforcement Guide at www.biodiesel.org/resources/fuelqualityguide that provides guidance on actions for anyone who has concerns about the quality of their biodiesel fuel.
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