A vote by a committee of the international standards organization ASTM International in Vancouver has resulted in approval of ASTM specifications for biodiesel blends. After more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by ASTM fuel experts, the organization has approved three key sets of biodiesel specifications that should significantly bolster automaker support and consumer demand for biodiesel.
The specifications include changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification; finished specifications to include up to 5 per cent biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petro-diesel specification; and a new specification for blends of between 6 per cent (B6) and 20 per cent (B20) biodiesel for on- and off-road diesel.
Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 blends for several years, with some citing the need for that specification as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 for use in their diesel vehicles.
"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," said Steve Howell, chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. "The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump."
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, while General Motors said that the new specification is a "major building block in GM's efforts to elevate biodiesel as part of our overall energy diversity strategy," according to John Gaydash, director of marketing for General Motors Fleet and Commercial Operations.
The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5 per cent biodiesel in the regular diesel fuel pool also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fuelling stations. The committee also approved a fourth set of specifications for inclusion of B5 in home heating oil.