Biodiesel summit sets goals for biodiesel research

By | April 06, 2007
Manufacturers, policy-makers, regulators and biodiesel industry representatives met in March at a biodiesel summit to identify and remove barriers to the widespread acceptance of up to B20 biodiesel blends by engine and vehicle manufacturers. DaimlerChrysler, a sponsor of the B20 Summit, challenged the group to come up with a viable fuel standard for the B20 finished blend.

"Biodiesel represents a huge opportunity to address some of our nation's toughest energy, environmental and economic challenges," said Deborah Morrissett, DaimlerChrysler's vice president of regulatory affairs. "We know this is the right thing to do, so the goal now is to develop a national B20 standard that can be universally applied to all diesel vehicles, both on-road and in production, to confidently support higher blends of biodiesel, such as B20."

A major step toward full B20 support is the finalization of a defined B20 American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International specification. The ASTM B20 specification moved closer to reality in recent months when the group approved new limits in ASTM D 6751, the existing standard for pure (B100) biodiesel, oxidation stability and other parameters needed for 2007-2010 diesel engines. "The B100 standard has been designed so that it is protective of B20 and lower blends, but regulators need us to approve a finished standard to hold people to, and engine-makers need something they can design to," said Steve Howell, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) technical director and chairman of the ASTM Task Force on biodiesel standards.
Attendees of the multi-industry B20 Summit met at the NextEnergy Center, Michigan's alternative and renewable energy business incubator, located in Detroit's TechTown district.

Participants identified several other areas that need additional study and funding to bolster full B20 support, including:

--Long-term effects of B20 on emissions control and aftertreatment devices

--Long-term engine durability testing

--Greater fuel-quality monitoring efforts to ensure fuel standards are being met

All major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) support B5 and lower blends, provided they are made with biodiesel meeting ASTM D 6751, the existing ASTM standard for B100. Use of blends higher than B5 won't necessarily void existing warranties. A growing number of OEMs are also recommending that users purchase biodiesel from BQ-9000 certified companies. BQ-9000 is the biodiesel industry's quality program for biodiesel producers and marketers.

DaimlerChrysler was the first auto manufacturer to approve the use of B20 by government, military and commercial fleet customers in its 2007 model year Dodge Ram pickup truck. New Holland has also approved the use of B20 in all of its equipment using New Holland engines, becoming the first OEM to announce full formal support for B20 in the engines it produces.

At the 2007 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, OEM activity included a ride-and-drive with Volkswagen (a major conference sponsor), General Motors (GM) and DaimlerChrysler products, along with GM's announcement of a special equipment option on the 6.6-liter Duramax engine for B20 capability. Also, Morrissett announced special pricing on biodiesel blend-capable products available to NBB members and their employees. Details are to follow. See pages 44-59 for more National Biodiesel Conference coverage.
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