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B100 Heavy Earth-Moving Equipment Trial in North Queensland, Australia

B100 Cat.

Hansen Construction NQ will test the use of B100 in heavy earth-moving equipment by fueling a Caterpillar 615 scraper at a construction site at Fairfield Waters (a new residential community under development near Townsville) with 100% biodiesel for two months. The 265 hp, 25.6 tonne (44.1 tonne loaded) scraper runs six days per week.

Hansen Construction NQ Site Foreman, Garry Gustharp, says that the trial is part of an ongoing program to identify more cost effective and sustainable ways of powering the vehicles.

Biodiesel is a replacement for petroleum diesel and requires no engine modifications. And at A$1.29 per litre [US$ 3.67 per gallon US] delivered to site, the price is hard to beat.

—Garry Gustharp

For the week ending 2 July, the average retail price of diesel ata the pump in Queensland was A$1.355/liter (US$3.85/gallon).

If the trial is successful, the whole fleet of 16 vehicles may be put onto biodiesel on the Fairfield Waters construction site. Fairfield Waters Director, Mr Grant McOmish, says that the biodiesel trial is an excellent innovation that supports the vision for sustainable development at Fairfield Waters.

If our construction fleet runs on straight biodiesel this will provide a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions for the urban development process.

—Grant McOmish

Hansen is obtaining its biodiesel from reeFUEL Biodiesel, a North Queensland biodiesel distributor. reeFUEL biodiesel is made by Australia’s biggest biodiesel manufacturer, Australian Biodiesel Group.



Queensland is a kind of lab experiment for a number of global issues. A new dam needed to counter rainfall decline will force many households to relocate within the State. Meanwhile retirees from other Australian States are flocking there but some now say the summers are too hot. Queensland is one of the world's biggest exporters of bituminous coal. I guess biodiesel bulldozers are part of the still-figuring-it-out process.

Rafael Seidl

I hope someone told these gents that B100 is susceptible to biological contamination and can lead to corrosion of the tank. A few percent of mineral diesel avoids these problems.

Another, more serious issue is that the elastomers and fuel filter may be damaged by high biodiesel blends. They should soak a few spare parts in B100 and see what happens before filling it into a vehicle. If the materials swell, there is a substantial risk of clogging or leakage.

Finally, biodiesel has lower lubricity than mineral diesel. If the vehicle in question has a fuel-lubricated high-pressure pump, it may suffer increased wear and tear.

In any case, they should contact the manufacturer to see if they've already run any tests of their own. Just traing it out and seeing what happens could prove penny wise and pound foolish. The *engine* may not need modifications for biodiesel, but the fuel system may.

Aussie -

why not spend the money on solar panels instead and run a reverse osmosis desalination plant or two? Or, for that matter, why not use the available space for old-fashioned solar desalination under giant cupolas? As long as the saline run-off is pumped far enough out to sea, there should be no impact on the coral reefs. Water storage can be distributed, especially the portion required for residential and commercial use. A hydro dam that will uproots entire communities sounds like something the Chinese would do.


Funny, I'd previously read that biodiesel had higher lubricity than petroleum diesel - to the extent that biodiesel was a suitable additive to address the lubricity deficit of ULSD petroleum diesel.  What's the truth of this matter?  (References only, no unsupported claims please.)


I'm equally interestged in knowing whether the planned residential community that's going up is layed out along conventional automobile-dependent lines, or whether it is more innovative and transit/walking/bicycle friendly. That's where the real impact of construction lies -- not in the origins of a few thousand gallons of construction equipment diesel, but in the energy that will go into sustaining the lifestyle that the neighborhood layout demands over the next half-century or so during which those buildings will stand.

Rafael Seidl

Engineer-Poet -

my apologies, it was late and I misspoke. Biodiesel does indeed have *higher* lubricity than mineral diesel under normal circumstances.

However, under the extreme pressures (2000+ bar) encountered in Bosch unit injectors (such as used by VW), this is no longer true and acclerated wear may occur. I did not come across similar warnings for common-rail or other injection systems, though. It is quite possible that the diesel engines in earth moving equipment features injectors with far lower pressures, in which case the fuel pump(s) may not be adversely affected by biodiesel that meets industry standards (EN 14214 in the EU).

Source: the German version of

"[...] jedoch verweigert der Hersteller der Einspritzpumpen (Bosch) dem Fahrzeughersteller eine offizielle Freigabe für RME. [...]"


I think clogged injectors on the machine is the least of their problems. It's more the point that they save a few tons of fossil derived CO2 while indirectly adding hundreds of millions of tons via coal mining. The next dam won't produce hydroelectricity
just drown a few hundred homes. The thinking on dam alternatives in Australia seems to be windpowered reverse osmosis of seawater, recycling of sewage (yum) and perhaps nuclear desal. Nobody uses lawn sprinklers anymore, in fact using less water would be critical most places.

allen Z

Another way would be a modified OTEC for algae production, solar absorption, freshwater production, and possibly seawater mineral production and soil/facility cooling as well.
___However, this probably would be done in arid coastal areas 20-30 S in Western Australia, and south central coastal/interior areas streching from South Australia into Western Australia.
___One possibility would be to use seawater minerals (minus the salt, uranium, and other life/plant nonessential/irrelavant/harmful minerals) and biomass compost from algae oil production to remake Australia's soil. They suffer from eons of no significant geological activity, and thus no new minerals brought to the surface. Rain leached much of the the remaining deep underground or out to sea. Improper/incompatible soil management brought from Europe (with different soils) were not suited for Australia's. Invasive species (all those rabbits) and sheep herding has caused alot of the Outback's topsoil to be blown away.

allen Z

Also, the modified OTEC would provide power for electrical production, or used for pumping water.

allen Z

The algae oil/biomass would be then used for fuel.
___Australia has enough land and sun for an enormous algae operation. Set aside land in the outback for this as well as a national park for wildlife and guided+licensed rabbit/invasive species hunts (to balance the human impact out). With proper funds, R&D, and management, Australia could become the OPEC of biofuels.

Rafael Seidl

Allen -

agreed, Australia could become a major producer of renewable energy. However, any algae farming would have to be based on salt water plus solar-powered pumps, and therefore no too far from the coast. Plus, intensive algae farms need CO2 enrichment so some coal would be involved as well.

There are many other places where such a setup would make sense: Salton Sea in California, Mediterranean rim, Namibia, nothern Chile - to name a just few.

tom deplume

I believe the Marines had injector pump failure because the biodiesel used still had some catalyst in it. The sodium methoxide created deposits in the pumps which caused them to seize up. They probably bought from the lowest bidder and got the lowest quality. Are the Aussies just as dumb as the US government in its procurement policies?


This paper from the University of Idaho appears to suggest that pressure is the main component of any lab test, making particular reference to the high pressures of any particular sort of pump somewhat irrelevant, i.e. the pressure measurement between sliding metal parts is the actual figure or merit for determining lubricity of any diesel / bio-petrodiesel blend.

Here is something a bit more hands on from the US DOD Joint Services Technical library.

Regarding bio contamination of biodiesel, this news note from BP on contamination of regular diesel used in boats makes it clear that it's something one has to consider and deal with for either type of diesel. Maybe the current state of biodiesel standards and production allow more badly produced biodiesel to slip into the market?

Im a big bioD fan and wish them success and luck. Doesnt prudence dictate a gradual phase-in of a new B10 for a week, B20 in two vehicles,etc. But B100 off the bat? is asking for one Fd up CAT.

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