GM: 2011 models B20 compatible

By Nicholas Zeman | January 19, 2010
Posted February 8, 2010

At the first general session of the 2010 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Grapevine, Texas, Coleman Jones, director of biofuels implementation for General Motors Corp. announced that its new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-ups, as well as Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna full-size vans, will be B20 compatible.

"This is the result of a lot of work," Jones told Biodiesel Magazine. "But we've got our suppliers on board, and these models will be on sale later this year."

The seals, gaskets and other components that need to accommodate certain unique characteristics of biodiesel, GM usually outsources. "We've wanted to approve higher blends of biodiesel before, but we don't build the whole vehicle," Jones said. "Our vendors said, 'You want biodiesel, it's going to cost you 20 more bucks.' Well, when it was time to do a major upgrade, we decided to do this and told our vendors, 'If you want this business, you're going to provide us with biodiesel-compatible parts [at a competitive price].'"

To make the Duramax 6.6L, which will power GM's new models, compatible with B20, GM upgraded some seals and gasket materials to withstand the ester content of biodiesel and included an upgraded fuel filter that includes a coalescing element, the company stated. "It improves the separation of water that may be present in the fuel, because biodiesel can attract and absorb water. Also, additional heating of the fuel circuit was added to reduce the chance of fuel gelling or waxing that could plug filters."

The diesel particulate regeneration system features a downstream injector that supplies fuel for the regeneration process. This greatly reduces potential oil dilution, important with using biodiesel. Downstream injection saves fuel and works better with B20 than in-cylinder post injection.

"B20 capability in our new heavy-duty trucks is the latest addition to a growing number of alternate fuel options offered by General Motors," said Mike Robinson, vice president, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "We are seeking different paths to fuel solutions in order to maximize efficiency, reduce emissions and minimize the dependence on petroleum."
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