International committee vote approves biodiesel measures

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The biodiesel industry is celebrating following the final vote by the ASTM International D02 Main Committee to approve a trio of long-awaited ASTM specifications for biodiesel blends.

Specifications

After more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts in the blended fuel balloting process, ASTM has voted to approve three key sets of biodiesel specifications that should significantly bolster automaker support and consumer demand for biodiesel:

  • Changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification;
  • Finished specifications to include up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification;
  • A new specification for blends of between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.
  • Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel blends for several years, with some citing the need for that spec as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 use in their diesel vehicles.

    Design

    Steve Howell, chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, said, “The new ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel. The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump.”

    Automaker Chrysler LLC was instrumental in working with the ASTM task force toward B20 specification development and approval, having supported fleet use of B20 in its Dodge Ram diesel pickups since January 2006.

    Fueling stations

    The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5 percent biodiesel in the regular diesel fuel pool also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fueling stations nationwide.

    The ASTM International Main Committee also approved a fourth set of specifications for inclusion of B5 biodiesel in heating oil. Marketed as Bioheat, biodiesel is gaining popularity as a home heating oil, particularly in the northeastern United States.

    Biodiesel blends up to B20 meeting ASTM specifications can be used in any diesel engine without modifications, and nearly all major automakers and engine manufacturers in the U.S. currently accept the use of at least B5, with some such as Caterpillar, Cummins, John Deere and New Holland already accepting blends of B20 or higher.

    Several more companies are expected to raise their approvals to B20 now that the final ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends have been approved.

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