Biodiesel, emissions testing developments

By | August 01, 2005
A program to test B20 in advanced diesel emission control systems is virtually underway. National Biodiesel Board (NBB) technical director Steve Howell said, "The light duty testing is scheduled to start yet this summer."

The program was initiated by the NBB in February 2003. "Determining that B20 was compatible with all of the new diesel technologies was a critical project," Howell said. The U.S. DOE (DOE) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are partners in the project.
The program consists of three phases: program organization and preliminary testing; engine and vehicle testing, and in-use fleet evaluations. Phase two testing will cover light-, medium- and heavy-duty diesels, in addition to off-road diesel testing.

"Most of the major companies are part of the steering committee and MECA (Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association) has just signed up here recently," Howell said.

Hardware and engineering support are all that is required to participate, according to Joe Kubsh, deputy director of MECA.
Completion of the program should take place in the 2007-2008 timeframe. The DOE, NBB and OEMs are providing funding to the tune of approximately $10 million, with the lion's share of $7.2 million coming from the DOE.

In related news, the U.S. EPA issued a new ruling affecting how heavy-duty diesel emissions will be tested in order to comply with the EPA's not-to-exceed (NTE) standards, which start with model year 2007 diesels. With EPA oversight, manufacturers will then be required-at their cost-to use onboard, portable emission testing equipment to help replicate real-world conditions for the more stringent regulations, the EPA reported.

Previously, heay-duty emission testing consisted of out-of-vehicle testing on an engine dynamometer, which may present inaccuracies.

"There's been a long controversy over what's the best way to test heavy-duty [diesel] engines," Howell said. "Historically, it has been very difficult to use the in-field validations to come up with any numbers that were reliable enough to set any regulations on, at least from a vehicle-testing standpoint."

The new rule begins with a pilot program, launching into a fully enforceable program for 2007 trucks. Tests will monitor hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM) and NOx.

Another related story involving what was thought to be a 4 percent to 5 percent NOx reduction in two diesel buses tested on a chassis dynamometer at NREL recently surfaced. According to senior NREL engineer Robert McCormick, NREL's results originally showed a NOx reduction in B20 use. Afterwards, it was released that the B20 tested contained an additive that apparently reduces NOx.
McCormick said, the two buses were tested as a larger fleet demonstration project, which includes long-term testing of nine buses traveling identical routes, during which maintenance and mileage are monitored. The buses get tested with the fuel they use in operation. Five out of the nine buses operated on biodiesel provided by Blue Sun Biodiesel.

wo of the buses were then brought to NREL's lab for emissions testing. "All of Blue Sun's biodiesel contains their multifunctional additive package," McCormick said. "So we tested with it since that is the actual in-use fuel."
In reviewing the results, McCormick said typical emissions reductions were found in PM, CO and HC. He noted, however, "Somewhat unexpectedly we observed a 4 percent reduction in NOx emissions."

Because of other chassis dynamometer tests showing similar NOx reductions-as opposed to EPA-documented increases on engine dynamometer tests-McCormick said he couldn't make a definite ruling as to why a NOx reduction was observed.
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