By Jon Scharingson, executive director, sales and marketing, Renewable Energy Group Inc.
More people are currently driving diesel-powered passenger vehicles than ever before. This can be a nightmare at the pump and for the environment.
What if I told you there was an alternative fuel that performs similarly to diesel fuel and has nearly identical specifications, but is environmentally friendly and supports local economies?
Better yet, what if you could relay that message to your customers?
That fuel exists — biodiesel.
There’s no denying that some people have concerns with biodiesel blends. But those simply do not hold up to scrutiny. Let’s look at one of them: cold weather issues.
The simple fact is biodiesel works just fine in the cold as long as the appropriate steps are taken, just like with traditional diesel. My company, Renewable Energy Group Inc., would know. We have biodiesel customers in all climates, including in International Falls, Minn. Take a look at its winter weather sometime.
Or consider New York City, which has the largest municipal fleet in the country and runs its 9,000 diesel-powered vehicles on B5 and B20 biodiesel blends year-round, including during the 2013-14 winter that became infamous for the frigid weather brought by the polar vortex. Biodiesel blended fuels accounted for 85% of their total diesel fuel usage in 2014.
Here’s another fact: The ASTM specification for fuel with between 6-20% biodiesel (B6-B20) is nearly indistinguishable from the ASTM spec for No. 2 ULSD. And in all of the key categories below, they are identical.
“A B20 blend is just another grade of diesel fuel,” said Scott Fenwick, technical director for the National Biodiesel Board. “Consumers can use a B20 just as they would diesel fuel.”
|B6-B20*||No. 2 ULSD**|
|Flash point (min)||52° C||52° C|
|Sulfur (max; S15 grade)||15 ppm||15 ppm|
|Cetane number (min)||40||40|
|Lubricity at 60° C (max)||520 microns||520 microns|
|Viscosity at 40° C||1.9-4.1 mm2/sec||1.9-4.1 mm2/sec|
|Ash content (max)||0.01% of mass||0.01% of mass|
|Water and sediment (max)||0.05% of vol||0.05% of vol|
|Copper strip corrosion max 3h at 50° C||No. 3||No. 3|
|Ramsbottom carbon residue on 10% bottoms (max)||0.35% of mass||0.35% of mass|
|* ASTM D7467-13|
|** ASTM D975, Grade No. 2-D S15|
Jon Scharingson — Jon oversees the sales and marketing efforts for Renewable Energy Group Inc., a leading biodiesel producer.