B20 Fleet Evaluation Team update

By | July 01, 2005
The B20 Fleet Evaluation Team (FET), formed by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), supplies supply data and information to develop an informed, fact-based position on the use of biodiesel blends up to B20 in diesel engine applications in the United States. The team is comprised primarily of engine and fuel injection equipment companies (see list at right), and has been actively assessing actual fleet operation, as well as conducting controlled validation tests. The team was set up by NBB to foster the NBB's Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) program goals of:
1.OEM support of the use of B20 in existing equipment
2.Inclusion of B20 in current OEM research and development programs
3.OEM support of the use of B20 in future engine technologies

In June, the B20 FET issued its preliminary report about the equipment effects of using B20. The report summarizes the findings and provides recommendations for B20 users based on the data generated. The recommendations are found below. Additional activities are currently being executed by the B20 FET to provide more detailed data from in-use fleet operations, and to address the items identified for further follow-up, including updating the biodiesel standards within ASTM.

"We set up the B20 FET to provide the engineers and scientists in the OEM community with the data they need in order to provide sound advice to their customers on the use of B20," said Steve Howell, NBB technical director. "So we pulled together the group of experts from the OEMs. The OEMs realize biodiesel is here to stay and that many customers are already using B20 even though most OEMs only outwardly support B5 at this time."

Technical recommendations for fleets using B20

Issued by B20 FET, June 2005 (Based on existing data from B20 FET, June 2005)
-Biodiesel is the pure, or 100 percent, biodiesel fuel. It is referred to as B100 or "neat" biodiesel.
-A biodiesel blend is pure biodiesel blended with petrodiesel. Biodiesel blends are referred to as Bxx. The xx indicates the amount of biodiesel in the blend (i.e., a B20 blend is 20 percent by volume biodiesel and 80 percent by volume petrodiesel).
-Ensure the biodiesel meets the ASTM specification for pure biodiesel (ASTM D 6751) before blending with petrodiesel. Purchase biodiesel and biodiesel blends only from companies that have been registered under the BQ-9000 fuel quality program.
-Ensure the B20 blend meets properties for ASTM D 975, Standard Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils or the ASTM specification for B20 once it is approved.
-Ensure your B20 supplier provides a homogenous product.
-Avoid long-term storage of B20 to prevent degradation. Biodiesel should be used within six months.
-Prior to transitioning to B20, it is recommended that tanks be cleaned and free from sediment and water. Check for water and drain regularly if needed. Monitor for microbial growth and treat with biocides as recommended by the biocide manufacturer. See the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's "Biodiesel Storage and Handling Guidelines" for further information. The document is available at www.nrel.gov.
-Fuel filters on the vehicles and in the delivery system may need to be changed more frequently upon initial B20 use. Biodiesel and biodiesel blends have excellent cleaning properties. The use of B20 can dissolve sediments in the fuel system and result in the need to change filters more frequently when first using biodiesel until the whole system has been cleaned of the deposits left by the petrodiesel.
-Be aware of B20's cold weather properties and take appropriate precautions. When operating in winter climates, use winter blended diesel fuel. If B20 is to be used in winter months, make sure the B20 cloud point is adequate for the geographical region and time of year the fuel will be used.
-Perform regularly scheduled maintenance as dictated by the engine operation and maintenance manual. If using B20 in seasonal operations where fuel is not used within six months, consider storage enhancing additives or flushing with diesel fuel prior to storage.

These recommendations on use of B20 are preliminary and are not provided to extend or supplant warranty limitation provided by an individual engine or equipment supplier. Use of B20 blends is solely at the discretion and risk of the customer, and any harmful effect caused by the use of B20 is not the responsibility of the engine or equipment maker.
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