ASTM publishes biodiesel standards

By Erin Voegele | November 13, 2008
New and updated biodiesel standards published by ASTM International in October are expected to help build consumer confidence in the product. In particular, one new ASTM specification for finished fuel blends of B6 to B20 was published, while three other standards pertaining to fuel blends up to B5, biodiesel in fuel oil and a cold soak filtration test were revised.

ASTM D 7467-08 is the newly established standard for finished diesel fuel blends containing 6 percent to 20 percent biodiesel for on-road and off-road diesel engine use. Steve Howell, chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Taskforce and technical director of the National Biodiesel Board, said that before the introduction of ASTM D 7467-08, there were no separate specifications for biodiesel-blended diesel. One benefit of the new specification is that companies can now design engines for finished fuel blends. "With the passage of these specifications, biodiesel used in B20 blends and lower can now be considered a proven fuel," Howell said. In addition, the specifications have been designed to ensure that when B100 and diesel fuels meet their respective specifications prior to blending, the blended products will always meet the new blended fuel specifications.

Revised specifications include ASTM D 975-08a, D 396-08b and ASTM D 6751-08. ASTM D 975-08a, a specification used for on-road and off-road diesel applications, now includes requirements for up to B5. Likewise, the D 396-08b specification for fuel oils used for home heating and boiler applications now includes requirements for up to B5. ASTM D 6751-08, a specification for B100 blend stock for middle distillate fuels used to control B100 quality prior to blending with conventional diesel, now includes a requirement that controls minor compounds using a new cold soak filtration test.

Under the new specifications, fuel blends of up to B5 are considered a fungible component of conventional petroleum-based diesel fuel. In other words, biodiesel content of 5 percent and less is now 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. "[Original equipment manufacturers] 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 since its inception in the United States in the early 1990s."

Joan McKinny, an analytical chemist at FutureFuel Chemical Co., also spoke favorably about the new specification. "We feel the biodiesel industry as a whole is going to benefit from these specs because it is going to establish performance consistency, ensure product quality and build customer confidence in the industry." According to Linda Bluestein, codirector of the U.S. DOE's Clean Cities program, many industry stakeholders have been anticipating the introduction of these new specifications for a long time.

More information on the specifications can be found at
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