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NBB: Biodiesel Quality Exceeds Specs in Testing

Quality concerns have long been addressed with bioproducts, and the appropriate testing ensures they meet common standards with other products. That is the case with lubricants, and, of course, that is the case with fuel.

Testing of fuel from more than 30 randomly selected retail stations throughout Minnesota showed biodiesel blends exceeding quality parameters set by the industry, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

The test results verify a trend of improving quality in biodiesel, the board said.

Minnesota in 2014 completed the first summer of a successful run with 10% biodiesel (B10) in diesel fuel statewide.

Scott Fenwick, NBB’s technical director, said a key indicator of fuel quality in biodiesel blends is oxidative stability, which is a measure of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen.

All of the samples taken surpassed the minimum required specification for oxidative stability and most of the samples were three to four times better than the minimum. Fenwick said higher values indicate even better stability, and this new real-world data is important as some original equipment manufacturers look for more assurances that biodiesel blends are meeting specifications at the pump. The minimum stability requirements within the current biodiesel specs only recommend biodiesel being stored for up to six months which is more than enough time for most diesel applications.

“With these high stability values we saw in Minnesota, under well-maintained storage conditions, consumers can expect the B10 that they purchased to be good for at least a year according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory,” Fenwick said.

MEG Corp., a fuel consulting company in Plymouth, Minn., took the blind samples in September.

The current biodiesel specification, ASTM D6751, has approximately 20 parameters to check for fuel quality, including the stability spec. For comparison, diesel fuel’s ASTM D975 has 13 parameters for fuel to meet.

Along with the strict ASTM standards the biodiesel industry also has a voluntary quality assurance program called BQ-9000 that helps ensure biodiesel is maintained to the ASTM specifications throughout the supply chain. There are currently three voluntary programs developed for producers, fuel marketers and independent laboratories. The efforts to expand the programs have been largely successful with more than 87% of biodiesel produced in 2013 originating from a BQ-9000 certified producer.

Biodiesel—made from a variety of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats—is the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons, reports NBB, which is based in Jefferson City, Missouri, and is the trade association representing the U.S. industry.

 

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