With 350,000 miles covered in a two-million mile over-the-road test comparing B20 biodiesel to conventional petroleum diesel in its heavy-duty fleet, Decker Truck Line is reporting substantial benefits in the use of the biofuel.
Decker and its partners in the Two Million Mile Haul—Caterpillar, Iowa Soybean Association, National Biodiesel Board (NBB), US Department of Agriculture, Iowa Central Community College and Renewable Energy Group—released the interim results at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
What we’ve observed so far is great performance in the particularly cold winter we just experienced, and reduced maintenance and engine wear benefits that equal or outweigh the slightly higher cost of the biodiesel blend.—Dale Decker
Decker Truck Line is using B20 biodiesel in 20 of the company’s trucks, running from its terminal in Fort Dodge, Iowa to either Chicago or Minneapolis. The trucks are Peterbilt 379s, 388s, and 389s, with mostly flatbed trailers. All trucks have Caterpillar C13 or C15 engines built to EPA 2004 and EPA 2007 emissions levels.
According to Decker, observations during the study, including oil analysis results, have shown:
- Cleaner engine oil
- Positive impact on engine wear
- Decreased maintenance due to increased lubricity
- No cold weather issues – even with temperatures in the teens and single digits.
Caterpillar is also following the results of the study and conducting further analysis on the effects of biodiesel. Decker Truck Line and Iowa Central Community College have developed a web site to show results.
Iowa Central collects and analyzes the data that is downloaded from the Qualcomm system in each truck. Data includes miles per gallon, total miles, idle time, max speed, average speed, and more.
Decker Truck Line attributed the absence of cold-weather performance problems to the work that it has done with NBB in finding high-quality fuel that is properly handled and treated to help biodiesel perform in cold weather. Decker had experienced issues with fuel filter clogging that were due to self-blending of the fuel as opposed to using professionally-blended fuel.
Until the two million miles are complete, conclusions about mileage and efficiency are not available. Tests so far are within the margin of error and are influenced by driving styles.