|The new B6-B20 biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) blends will have a blue label at the pump to distinguish the fuel from others. B100 will have its own blue label. Click to enlarge.|
The ASTM International D02 Main Committee approved a trio of ASTM specifications for biodiesel blends after more than five years of research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts.
The committee approved changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification (ASTM D6751); finished specifications to include up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification (ASTM D975); and approved a new specification for blends of between 6% (B6) to 20% (B20) biodiesel for on- and off-road diesel engines.
The ballot for B100 added a significant new test procedure and measurement requirement for a cold soak filtration test (CSFT) that had to be approved for any of the other biodiesel ballots to pass. The test was added as a means to ensure that cloud point is still an accurate indicator for B20 and lower blends, according to Jennifer Weaver, a spokesperson for the National Biodiesel Board.
The blend specification to be published by ASTM is basically a melding of the D6751 spec and the D975 spec with the addition of another couple of key parameters and tests to ensure fuel quality, even after transportation and over time, Weaver said. Revised and new specifications are generally published around 30 days after approval.
|Blends containing biomass-based synthetic diesel (e.g., NExBTL) are to be treated as separate from biodiesel, and will have an orange label, consistent with other alternative fuels. Click to enlarge.|
Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel blends for several years, with some citing the need for that spec as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 use in their diesel vehicles. Biodiesel blends up to B20 meeting ASTM specifications will be able to be used in any diesel engine without modifications.
Automaker Chrysler LLC was instrumental in working with the ASTM task force toward B20 specification development and approval, having supported fleet use of B20 in its Dodge Ram diesel pickups since January 2006.
The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the regular diesel fuel oil also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fueling stations nationwide.
The ASTM International Main Committee also approved a fourth set of specifications for inclusion of B5 biodiesel in heating oil (D396). Marketed as Bioheat, biodiesel is gaining popularity as a home heating oil, particularly in the Northeast United States.
The new biodiesel specifications do not address requirements for biomass-based renewable diesel such as Fischer-Tropsch diesel or hydrotreated oils and fats. If additional specifications for these outside of the primary diesel spec are required, they will be handled separately. Similarly, the FTC has decided to use different pump labels to distinguish between biodiesel (neat and B6-B20 blends) and biomass-based renewable diesel (neat and blends).
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 directed the US EPA to set the legal specifications for biodiesel blends in the US if ASTM does not pass biodiesel blend specifications. Had ASTM been unable to secure final approval of biodiesel blend specifications by December 2008, EPA would have set its own legal specifications for biodiesel blends soon after December 2008 due to biodiesel’s role in meeting the requirements of EISA.