Biodiesel offers fleet operators a safer, cleaner alternative to petroleum diesel.
Biodiesel is made from renewable feedstocks, such as vegetable oils and animal fats, through a simple refining process. One of the main commodity sources for biodiesel is soybeans, a major crop produced by almost 400,000 farmers in 29 states. Biodiesel is a cost effective tool when complying with federal regulations.
The Energy Conservation Reauthorization Act of 1998 allows federal, state and alternative fuel provider fleets who must comply with the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) and Executive Order 13149 to meet up to 50 percent of their light duty alternative fueled vehicle purchase requirements with biodiesel. The biodiesel fuel use credit gives fleets and covered persons, who are otherwise required under EPAct to purchase alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), the option of purchasing and using 450 gallons of biodiesel in vehicles in excess of 8,500 lbs. gross vehicle weight instead of purchasing an AFV. Fleets must purchase and use the equivalent of 450 gallons of pure biodiesel in a minimum of a 20% blend to earn one AFV credit. Click here for a fact sheet
about earning EPAct credits with biodiesel. Biodiesel operates in conventional engines.
Biodiesel blends operate in diesel engines, from light to heavy-duty, just like petroleum diesel. B20 works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications to the engine or the fuel system, and provides similar horsepower, torque, and mileage as diesel. Click here for a performance fact sheet
. Biodiesel does not require special storage.
In fact, in its pure form or in blends, biodiesel can be stored wherever petroleum diesel is stored, except in concrete-lined tanks. Acceptable storage tank materials include aluminum, steel, fluorinated polyethylene, fluorinated polypropylene and teflon. The fuel should be stored in a clean, dry, dark environment. At higher blend levels, biodiesel may deteriorate natural rubber or polyurethane foam materials. Biodiesel also has a higher flash point, handles like diesel and is safe to transport. Users should be sure to verify compatibility with materials exposed to neat biodiesel.
Biodiesel costs rank well with other alternatives.
The cost of biodiesel depends on the market price for vegetable oil. In general, biodiesel blended at a 20 percent level with petroleum diesel costs approximately 20 cents per gallon more than diesel alone. Given the other advantages of biodiesel, though, an emission management system with biodiesel is a least-cost alternative. A study by Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc., found fleets using a 20 percent biodiesel blend would experience lower total annual costs than other alternative fuels. Similarly, results reported by the University of Georgia indicate biodiesel-powered buses are competitive with other alternatively fueled buses with biodiesel prices as high as $3 per gallon. Biodiesel has a full ASTM standard.
The premier standard-setting organization in the United States has issued a fuel specification for biodiesel. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued Specification D 6751 for all biodiesel fuel bought and sold in the U.S. in March of 2002, marking a major milestone for the biodiesel industry.
Having a full standard in place helps protect consumers from poor products and reduces the cost of buying and selling biodiesel. While many adopted the provisional specification in 1999 (PS 121), those that didn't had to negotiate a specification. The final passage of D 6751 streamlines the procurement process.
Those interested in getting a copy of the standard can buy it for $35 at www.astm.org. To contact ASTM customer service directly, call (610) 832-9585 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org