SALEM, Ohio – Biodiesel fuel and fuel additives are no longer the outlandish alternative they were once considered. They are gradually making their way into the tanks of America.
When truckers started talking about whether they should try running on a vegetable diesel manufactured out of McDonald’s leftover French fries grease, the idea of a biodiesel fuel was out there on the fringe.
My, how things have changed.
In the past year, as pure soy biodiesel licensed to a number of manufacturers by the National Biodiesel Board has gained more general acceptance, the amount of soy oil being burned as automotive fuel has skyrocketed.
The National Biodiesel Board is the offshoot of the National Soy Grower’s Association, which conducts research to develop biodiesel products funded by soy checkoff dollars.
Adopted for fleets.
The number of major fleets using biodiesel has been increasing since it was first approved as standard diesel fuel in 1998, and now includes more than 60 nationwide.
Last May, biodiesel became the only alternative fuel in the country to successfully complete the EPA’s health effects testing, which demonstrated that biodiesel has a significant reduction in emissions over regular diesel, and which demonstrated that biodiesel is nontoxic and has no effect on health.
Since then, the B20 blend tested by the government has been adopted for use by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command for Army vehicles, and by Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. It is expected that it will soon be adopted by most federal agencies.
Used in buses.
Several major bus companies, including those in Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Trenton, N.J., have all adopted biodiesel.
Bus companies in particular like the change in the smell of biodiesel over regular diesel, which contains sulfur, and puts off the distinctive diesel odor that can get offensive in clogged, mid-city traffic.
In April, the state legislature of Iowa enacted a biodiesel purchase fund that can be used by the Iowa Department of Transportation only to purchase biodiesel.
The state of Kansas, by agreement between the legislature and the DOT, announced it would begin using a 2 percent biodiesel fuel in all its state vehicles.
Minnesota is in the midst of a legislative debate on legislation that would put 2 percent biodiesel in most diesel pumps in the state.
But biodiesel does not have to be used in a blend with regular diesel. The 20 percent blend tested by EPA has major environmental benefits. But it is also possible to burn pure biodiesel in a diesel engine.
That is what one San Francisco Bay recycling company decided to do. Now its garbage trucks are running like silk and smelling like fried potatoes.
A separate product developed by the National Biodiesel Board that is also being marketed by several companies is a soy-based diesel additive that can be used to turn diesel into into a biodiesel blend by mixing it in the tank.
SoyShield, licensed by the biodiesel board for manufacture to Schaeffer Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, is distributed by local fuel jobbers, including Salem Oil Co.
Marketed as a soy-based premium diesel additive, SoyShield upgrades No. 2 diesel to premium diesel and increased the lubricity of diesel fuel. Because it has a higher flash point than gasoline, it also increases fuel economy.
Schaeffer has also developed an additive, SoyUltra, for the bulk treatment of regular gasoline. Tests have indicated it makes it possible to burn in farm machinery an 87 octane gasoline with the same results as an 89 octane gasoline.