The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has issued a “winter weather advisory” for fleet managers, petroleum distributors and other consumers in response to fuel quality testing results that the trade association shared at a NBB-led industry meeting last week.
A national fuel quality testing project, co-funded by NBB and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, found that one-third of biodiesel samples pulled between November 2005 and July 2006 were out of spec for incomplete processing. That’s the same issue that caused some filter clogging problems in Minnesota last year. (Earlier post.) Although fuel quality is always important, cold weather can amplify problems caused by out-of-spec fuel.
Ensuring that consumers have a high level of confidence in the biodiesel they purchase is a top priority for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and a key element for the industry’s continued growth. As the industry ramps up to meet the vast increase in demand for biodiesel, this growth simply cannot occur at the expense of fuel quality.
NBB views these results as unacceptable. This underscores the need for enforcement agencies to take action against those who aren’t producing biodiesel that meets the existing standard, ASTM D-6751.—Joe Jobe, NBB CEO
As a result of issues in Minnesota last winter, NBB board members in June approved a comprehensive Fuel Quality Policy that directs NBB to work diligently with all state and federal agencies with authority to regulate fuel and enforce quality.
NBB’s Fuel Quality Outreach Program has made contact with all state Divisions of Weights and Measures, and encouraged them to adopt ASTM D-6751 into the laws that regulate fuel quality. Currently, half of the states have adopted the ASTM D-6751 specification as part of their fuel quality regulations, and an additional 13 states are planning to adopt the specification or are studying it. Ten states now proactively test biodiesel or biodiesel blends.
In addition, the biodiesel industry, through NBB, has done the following:
Worked diligently with the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and state Weights and Measures bureaus on enforcing fuel quality;
Issued a bulletin to fuel suppliers advising them to take samples of fuel, ensure a certificate of analysis for every batch, and take other precautions;
Developed an online Fuel Quality Enforcement Guide that provides guidance on actions for anyone who has concerns that a company might not be producing spec fuel; and
Built strong participation in BQ-9000, the industry’s voluntary quality control program.
The BQ-9000 program, launched in late 2005, requires certified and accredited companies to posses a Quality Manual and Quality Control System and employ best practices in fuel sampling, testing, blending, shipping, storage, and distribution. This helps assure quality from plant gate to consumer tank.
Last year at this time, three companies had BQ-9000 accreditation. Today there are 17 accredited producers and certified marketers, representing more than 40% of the biodiesel production capacity on the market. Seven more are expected to be accredited by the end of the year.
This winter, NBB has the following recommendations for fleet managers and other consumers:
Work with a reputable supplier who will stand behind the product;
Report out-of-spec biodiesel to the proper authorities, which can be found in the State Fuel Quality Index; and
Buy fuel from BQ-9000 accredited producers or certified marketers.
(A hat-tip to Joe!)