Fuel studies continue to validate biodiesel performance

By Ryan C. Christiansen | October 14, 2008
Small-scale and large-scale fuel studies continue to show that the performance of biodiesel is on par with petroleum diesel.

In Washington, Propel Inc.-which owns a network of fueling stations that offer B5, B20 and B99-recently completed a study with The Essential Baking Co. that concluded that B99 runs as effectively as, if not better than, petroleum diesel when used in the baking company's delivery vehicles, according to Propel. The vehicles varied in model year and type, and were driven on a variety of routes and a variety of distances. Essential Baking used 2,500 gallons of B99 over 37,000 miles and 13 weeks beginning in January. Air temperatures dipped below 35 degrees Fahrenheit during 32 days of the study, and none of the vehicles experienced failures. The majority of drivers reported that the vehicles ran smoother and quieter on B99 than on petroleum diesel.

Meanwhile, with 200,000 miles left to go in the Two Million-Mile Haul over-the-road B20 demonstration test, results showed that B20 performs at a level comparable with petroleum diesel, even at zero-degree Fahrenheit air temperatures, according to Donald Heck, lab director for the Biotechnology and Biofuels Program at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The demonstration, which began in the fall of 2006, consists of two groups of 10 semi-tractors running with flatbed trailers on matched routes to either Minneapolis or Chicago. A control group is using 100 percent No. 2 petroleum diesel, while the test group uses B20. The test's findings mimic the results of a 12-month study released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Biodiesel Board in early August, which concluded that a B20 blend operates comparatively with petroleum-based ultra-low-sulfur diesel. The Two Million-Mile Haul study is sponsored by the community college, the Iowa Soybean Association, Decker Truck Line Inc., Caterpillar Inc., the NBB, Renewable Energy Group Inc. and the USDA.
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