Biodiesel and renewable diesel have likely been on your fleet customers’ minds for a few years now — their usage is certainly on the rise. Perhaps you’ve even started offering the fuels in some form. But did you know they can be blended together and provide even better emission reductions for your customers while maintaining strong performance?
Let’s break down the advantages of each fuel, and then we’ll discuss what happens when they are blended together. You may decide it’s a product your fleet customers will want.
Two Strong Options
Compared with ULSD, biodiesel has greater Cetane and lubricity, while its cleaner burn leads to fewer issues with diesel particulate filters. It’s also made from a wide variety of feedstocks, so its pricing and availability tend to be more stable.
The most common biodiesel blends range from B5 (which is 5% biodiesel and 95% petroleum diesel) to B20 (which is 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel). These are drop-in solutions that don’t require vehicle or fueling infrastructure changes.
Renewable diesel is made from the same feedstocks as biodiesel but goes through a different production process to create a clean fuel that’s chemically identical to petroleum diesel. It’s covered by the same ASTM standard as petroleum diesel, but it has higher Cetane and lower sulfur content and aromatics.
Each of these fuels emit fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum diesel, mainly due to their feedstocks. Across the U.S. in 2019, 2.3 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel were consumed, which reduced carbon emissions by 18.2 million metric tons.1, 2
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), a leading clean air agency, assigns “carbon intensity scores” as a measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing and consuming a fuel. Here are the CI scores of some popular fuels, with lower scores meaning the fuel is more environmentally friendly:3
- Biodiesel: 27.0
- Renewable diesel: 34.6
- Compressed natural gas from fossil fuels: 79.2
- Electricity from the California grid: 93.8
- Petroleum diesel: 100.5
The individual advantages of renewable diesel and biodiesel have been somewhat common knowledge for a while now. What’s relatively new is the knowledge that blending them together brings out the best characteristics of each, in terms of both emissions and performance.
As you could probably guess, this kind of product provides greater Cetane, added lubricity and lower aromatics than ULSD, plus a great Cloud Point and no need for equipment modifications.
But the environmental advantage is where this blend really differentiates itself. A renewable diesel and biodiesel blend can reduce particulate matter by over 40%, carbon monoxide by over 25%, total hydrocarbons by over 20% and nitrogen oxides by approximately 10% compared with ULSD.4
And those CI scores I mentioned earlier? My company used the same methodology as CARB, calculating that an 80/20 blend of our best-in-class renewable diesel and biodiesel, a product we call REG Ultra Clean®, would have a CI score of 17.6.
With renewable diesel demand outpacing supply, blending in biodiesel can also help stretch allocations, both for fleets and for c-stores. Ruan Transportation, a leading company in the trucking industry, has experienced this with a portion of its California fleet running on REG Ultra Clean.
“Using a blend like this helps offset some of the renewable diesel demand,” says Steve Larsen, Director of Fuel and Procurement at Ruan Transportation. “And we have not had any performance disruptions whatsoever.”
As fleets and the companies that hire them face increasing pressure and regulation around environmental impact, offering a fuel that makes emissions reduction easy could be a win-win for c-stores.
As always, I recommend doing your own research and talking with your suppliers and customers. If you’re interested in offering this blend at your c-store, I would be happy to discuss it with you: [email protected].
2 Carbon reduction based on life cycle analysis versus petroleum diesel using CA-GREET model when available and, when not, GHGenius.
3Average biodiesel and renewable diesel CI scores in 2019: https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lrtqsummaries.htm.
Standard values for fossil-based CNG, grid electricity and petroleum diesel: https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/fro_oal_approved_clean_unofficial_010919.pdf?_ga=2.45908012.960337920.1592340719-1588006246.1591968986
4 For a blend of 80% renewable diesel and 20% biodiesel. Data based on California Air Resources Board assessments compared to federal ULSD.