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Big win for biodiesel: ASTM approves new blend spec’s

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The biodiesel industry is celebrating following the recent vote by the ASTM International D02 Ma...

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The biodiesel industry is celebrating following the recent vote by the ASTM International D02 Main Committee to approve a trio of long-awaited specifications for biodiesel blends. After more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts in the blended fuel balloting process, ASTM has finally voted to approve three key sets of biodiesel specifications that industry insiders say should significantly bolster manufacturer support and consumer demand for biodiesel:

-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
-A new specification for blends of between 6% biodiesel (B6) to 20% biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.

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.

Steve Howell, chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force, said, “The new ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel. The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump.”

John Gaydash, director of marketing for General Motors fleet and commercial operations, said, “The new ASTM spec’ for B6 B20 is a major building block in GM’s efforts to elevate biodiesel as part of our overall energy diversity strategy. We are eager to work with the National Biodiesel Board on efforts to continue to ensure biodiesel fuel quality, as well as to increase our support for biodiesel use in our diesel vehicle lineup.” Currently, GM accepts the use of B5 in all of its diesel vehicles, and offers B20 use as a Special Equipment Option (SEO).

The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5% biodiesel (B5) in the regular diesel fuel pool also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fuelling stations nationwide.

Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable alternative to diesel fuel and can be made from plant oils, animal fats, recycled cooking oils or new sources such as algae. Biodiesel must be properly processed to meet the approved ASTM specifications regardless of the feedstock used to produce it. Biodiesel blends up to B20 meeting ASTM specifications can be used in any diesel engine without modifications, and nearly all major automakers and engine manufacturers in the US currently accept the use of at least B5, including Caterpillar and Cummins, which are already accepting blends of B20 or higher. Several more companies are expected to raise their approvals to B20 now that the final ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends have been approved.

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