Biodiesel standard nearing reality

VANCOUVER — It may be a lot easier to tell the difference between junk biodiesel and quality stuff, as a standard for finished specifications moved one step closer to reality.

The fuel experts of ASTM Subcommittee E voted overwhelmingly to recommend the passage of finished specifications for biodiesel blends. All three proposals were balloted to the D02 Main Committee for consideration at the semi-annual ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) meeting being held in Vancouver this week.

The Main Committee members will render their final votes on June 19.

It is extremely rare for an ASTM subcommittee vote to be overturned at the main committee level, and the overwhelming vote count for passage is a promising sign that the main committee D02 vote will be positive.

"While it’s not over until the last vote is cast at the main committee Thursday, passage of these ballots is a sort of ‘rite of passage’ that the auto and petroleum industries have said they need in order to more fully support and endorse B20 and lower blends," said Steve Howell, chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. "It is quite remarkable that the big oil companies and engine makers on the committee have now joined forces with the biodiesel industry to help approve these standards."


Specifically, they will recommend the following to the ASTM D02 Main Committee at its final vote later this week: Finished specifications to include up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification (ASTM D975); changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification (ASTM D6751); and a new specification for blends of between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.

The votes represent the culmination of more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts in the blended fuel balloting process.

"We addressed the issues and concerns with solid, scientific research," said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "Without the tremendous amount of scientific data provided by independent organizations like Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) and others, and the cooperation of the petroleum and engine communities, this would not have been possible."

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