ASTM publishes new biodiesel standards

By Erin Voegele | October 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 15, 2008 at 10:40 a.m. CST

More widespread usage of biodiesel took a step forward Oct. 13 when the ASTM International published new approved standards for stronger biodiesel blends.

ASTM International, one of the largest and most highly regarded standards development organizations in the world, officially published the highly anticipated biodiesel blend specifications on its Web site.

The new biodiesel blend specifications include:
  • ASTM D975-08a, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils - used for on- and off-road diesel applications, was revised to include requirements for up to five percent biodiesel

  • D396-08b, Specification for Fuel Oils - used for home heating and boiler applications, was revised to include requirements for up to five percent biodiesel

  • ASTM D7467-08, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oil, Biodiesel Blend (B6 to 20) - a completely new specification that covers finished fuel blends of between six (B6) and 20 (B20) percent biodiesel for on- and off-road diesel engine use

  • ASTM D6751-08, Specification for Biodiesel Fuel Blend Stock (B100) for Middle Distillate Fuels - used to control pure biodiesel (B100) quality prior to blending with conventional diesel type fuels, was revised to include a requirement that controls minor compounds using a new cold soak filterability test

According to Steve Howell, technical director for the National Biodiesel Board and chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, before the introduction of ASTM D7467-08, there were no separate specifications for finished blends of biodiesel and diesel fuel. As long as the two parent fuels met their specs, they could be blended up to B20. "That way of operating has worked well in the marketplace and has allowed the biodiesel industry to begin and start to thrive," Howell said. One benefit of the new specifications is that companies can now design engines for finished fuel blends.

"We would not have been able to pass these specifications through the rigorous voting process of ASTM were it not for the support of all three groups working together – engine [companies], petroleum companies, biodiesel companies – to get these specs passed," Howell said. "With the passage of these specifications, biodiesel used in B20 blends and lower can now be considered a proven fuel." In addition, the specifications have been designed so that when B100 and diesel fuels meet their respective specifications prior to blending, the blended products will always meet the new blended fuel specifications.

Also under the new specifications, fuel blends of up to B5 are considered a fungible component with the conventional petroleum-based diesel fuel. This means that biodiesel content of 5 percent and lower is considered part of the normal makeup of diesel fuel.

"Diesel users can be confident that the fuels meeting the newly approved specs are fit for purpose," Howell said. "OEMs can now use these specs to design new engines…and regulators can use them to enforce fuel quality. This is perhaps the biggest technical achievement of the biodiesel industry, in my personal opinion, since its inception in the U.S. in the early 1990s."

For more information, visit the ASTM International biodiesel web portal at
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