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American Trucking Associations Back B5 Standard

The American Trucking Associations’s Board of Directors has revised ATA’s alternative fuels policy to advocate the use of biodiesel in blends up to 5 percent (B5) as part of the national diesel fuel standard.

ATA’s energy policy calls for a single national diesel fuel. A side benefit of biodiesel use, from ATA’s point of view (aside from stretching the petroleum fuel supply) is that as the nation transitions to ultra low sulfur diesel in 2006, biodiesel will help ensure that ULSD maintains adequate lubrication.

ATA is working with the National Biodiesel Board to promote the use of biodiesel and ensure its incorporation in the national diesel fuel standard.

At current prices, the trucking industry, which consumes 35 billion gallons of diesel each year, is on pace to spend an unprecedented $85 billion on fuel this year. For many motor carriers, fuel often represents the second-highest expense after labor and can account for as much as 25% of total operating costs.

More than 564,000 motor carriers in the United States transport nearly 70% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation. Trucks hauled 9.8 billion tons of freight in 2004, collecting $671 billion dollars, or just under 88%, of total revenues earned by all transport modes.

The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups and its fifty affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.



So for the trucking industry to use exclusively B5 we need to produce 1.75 billion gallons of biodiesel per year. Does anyone know what our currently yearly production of biodiesel is? I'm guessing a couple 100 million gallons but that's just a SWAG.

It's a great idea and it's good to see the industry in support of it, but in the short term (next couple of years) how achievable is it?




According to the National Biodiesel Board, current (Sep 05) biodiesel production capacity is 290 million gallons.


As we become more motivated ($) there will be all the BioDiesel we will ever need.


One of the issues that I've heard against the crop derived biofuels is the land use/impact issue. For example, in Malaysa another 600,000 Acres are going to be put to use to produce Palm oil for biofuels. There's obviously an enviromental impact there. In the US how many barrels of biofuels could we realistically produce without greatly expanding our culitivated lands? How much petro OIL (as HarveyD likes to spell it) could we displace?


Corn oil is better used in fuel tanks than the tank around my waste. 2/3 of corn production is for animal feed which like ethanol byproducts means the same crop can be used for multiple purposes.
I've been wondering about these palm oil plantations. Are they date palms or coconut palms?


tom:  They're oil palms.

Tripp:  The US uses about 3.5 billion gallons of cooking grease per year; this biodiesel requirement could perhaps be met by transesterifying half of the waste that comes out of restaurant deep-fryers.

Lucas:  Look up oil crop productivity sometime.  You're dreaming; we can get to a few billion gallons easily, and from there it's a stiff climb.  We are much better off using other things.


Yup, that'd about do it. Don't forget the cellulose ethanol from agricultural residue. It won't displace all petro fuels but might be a renewable ANWR. I believe some senator from Idaho stated that argricultural residue could provide up to 7% of our transportation fuel needs. I don't know enough about the cellulose ethanol process to know if he's full of it or not. Still, it's gotta be pretty substantial.


First thing we're going to have to do is reduce waste and consumption in general. Ethanol/Butanol and Biodiesel can replace a portion of the liquid fuel needs, but I think the most critical thing that needs to be done in the short term is getting battery EVs on the road for commuting, and long-term fuel cell EVs. All efforts combined can mitigate the coming energy crisis, but ONLY if we push for them now, before we have a problem on our hands.


So while bio capacity is currently on the order of 5% of the necessary capacity to supply B5 for all trucks, I'd imagine that the curve of overall capacity of bio vs. time is an S-curve*, so growth is rapid, and with the financial incentives of a "guaranteed" marketplace of almost 2 billion gallons will only spur more investment.

But why not start with B1 and step it up to B5?

* RANT: Often misrepresented as an exponential growth curve because the growth starts so large, the reality is that it must level off or at least have an asymptote with a positive finite slope -- it simply can't grow forever.


Tripp:  Vehicular internal combustion engines have very low efficiency (~20-25% for cars, at best, though diesels are better).  IMHO, building a biofuel system aimed at feeding them is a dead end.  Combined-cycle gas turbines can get close to 60%; cutting the need for fuel in half immediately makes it twice as easy to replace all of it.

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