Biodiesel Vehicle Technologies
Biodiesel has been used since the turn of the 20th century when Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine. Today, blends of B20 or less can be used in diesel engines manufactured after 1993 without modification. When running on blends higher than B20, or in vehicles manufactured before 1993, gaskets and hoses (components made of natural rubber) should be replaced with materials that will not react with the fuel, as biodiesel has greater solvency properties than petroleum diesel fuel. Some vehicle manufactures do not recommend using biodiesel blends higher than B5 in vehicles newer than 2007, due to engine modifications. Before changing fuels it is advisable to check your vehicle manufactures website or speak with a dealer. Warrantee information
Biodiesel can be blended with traditional petroleum diesel in different concentrations. Much of the world uses a system known as the "B" factor to state the amount of biodiesel in any fuel mix:
100% biodiesel is referred to as B100
20% biodiesel, 80% diesel is labeled B20
5% biodiesel, 95% diesel is labeled B5
2% biodiesel, 98% diesel is labeled B2
B20 is the most common biodiesel blend in the United States. This blend’s popularity has been attributed to its favorable balance of biodiesel's benefits (cost, emissions) and drawbacks (cold-weather performance, materials compatibility). Additionally, B20 (and higher blends) qualify for biodiesel fuel use credits under the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
Biodiesel powered vehicles have similar performance to traditional diesel powered vehicles. B100 users may experience minimal power loss and fuel economy reduction, due to the fuels lower energy content - B100 contains about 8% less energy per gallon than petroleum diesel. However, for B20 this only means a 1% to 2% difference, and most users report no difference. Additionally, biodiesel has the highest BTU content of the alternative fuels.
Due to is high solvency, Biodiesel has been known to break down deposits of residue in the fuel lines where diesel has been used. As a result, fuel filters may become clogged with particulates if a quick transition to pure biodiesel is made. Therefore, it is recommended to change the fuel filters on engines and heaters shortly after first switching to a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel also has greater lubricity, which reduces engine wear, extending engine life.
One potential draw back consumers should be aware of is the potential for gelling in cold weather. Biodiesel is more susceptible to crystallization at very cold temperatures than traditional petroleum diesel fuels. Gelling is dependent on the blend level. The lower the blend the better it performs in cold weather. Depending on operating conditions, special systems or minor modifications may be required for use of B100.
Many vehicles currently use diesel engines such as buses, delivery trucks, waste disposal and recycling trucks, construction and farm equipment, heavy-duty freight hauling, boats and even passenger vehicles. Current vehicles available in the U.S.
Biodiesel Fueling Stations
UCCC Biodiesel Fuel Page
Alternative Fuel Data Center- Diesel Vehicles Using Biodiesel
U.S. Dept. of Energy - EERE - BioEnergy
U.S. Dept. of Energy - EERE - Vehicles
FuelEconomy.Gov - Biodiesel
National Biodiesel Board
ASTM International - Standards