Two Million-Mile Haul verifies B20 performance

By Bryan Sims | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 26, 2008 at 3:45 p.m. CST

Partners involved with the Two Million-Mile Haul over-the-road B20 demonstration test found that B20 performed at a level "comparable with that of petroleum diesel." The interim test results were announced during the Great American Truck Show in Dallas on Aug. 21.

With about 200,000 miles left to go, the two-year demonstration project pits B20 against petroleum diesel in a head-to-head test to determine differences in performance, fuel efficiency and valuable cold flow issues.

The demonstration, which began in the fall of 2006, consists of two groups of 10 Decker Truck Line Inc. semi-tractors running with flatbed trailers on matched routes to either Minneapolis or Chicago. A control group is using 100 percent No. 2 petroleum diesel while the B20 test group uses a biodiesel blend supplied by Ames, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. and 80 percent No. 2 petroleum diesel.

The study is sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Central Community Technical College, Decker Truck Line Inc., Caterpillar Inc., the National Biodiesel Board, REG and the USDA. This is believed to be the first comprehensive, publicly documented demonstration of B20 in over-the-road truck fleets.

"In recent months, we have learned that driver variability makes more difference in fuel efficiency than biodiesel utilization does," said Don Heck, coordinator of biotechnology and biofuels programs at Iowa Central Community Technical College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Two Million Mile Haul test data is being analyzed.

The findings mimic fuel efficiency test results released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the NBB in early August in which they concluded that a B20 blend operates comparatively with petroleum-based ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). The year-long joint study evaluated the extended use of the two fuels in 15 St. Louis Metro Transit buses. Eight buses were fueled with a B20 blend of fuel for 12 months, while the other seven buses were fueled exclusively with ULSD. The 40-foot, 2002 model year buses were monitored for fuel economy, maintenance, engine performance, component wear and lube oil performance.

"Although both the petroleum and B20 groups experienced some fuel filter plugging in zero degree Fahrenheit weather, the B20 trucks did not experience any considerable challenges because test partners implemented proper handling and storage measures," said Grant Kimberley, Iowa Soybean Association director of market development, who helped coordinate the Two Million Mile Haul program. "If B20 can work for a fleet in the Upper Midwest December through February, it can run in any fleet across the nation year-round."

For more information about the Two Million Mile Haul test, visit
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