Why a 34-Year Veteran Mechanic Believes in Biodiesel

Diesel equipment technology instructor Scott Balding schools his students on the benefits of biodiesel.

An important component of diesel education.

As the diesel equipment technology instructor at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Illinois, Scott Balding’s main responsibility is to educate and train students about diesel technology and fuels. With 34 years of experience in the field, he is focused on preparing the next generation of diesel engine mechanics.

As little as 2% biodiesel can provide 66% more lubricity.

With the numerous moving internal parts of an engine working at a high temperature, lubricity is important for maintaining functionality. From the fuel pump to the fuel injector, biodiesel can be used to help lubricate the engine components. According to Balding, as little as 2 percent biodiesel can provide 66 percent more lubricity when added to petroleum diesel fuel. However, perhaps the most important component, which combines performance and emission advantages, is the low sulfur content.

“In the last few years, the fuel industry has reduced the amount of sulfur from 500 down to 15 parts per million in petroleum diesel fuel. But sulfur has lubricating properties, so when you remove it from diesel, you lose lubrication. When you add biodiesel, even at just 1 or 2 percent, you bring back that lubricity, but not the sulfur,” Balding says.

Biodiesel removes buildup thanks to cleaning properties. 

There are myths in the industry suggesting that using biodiesel leads to filter plugging. According to Balding, that myth has some truth, but it must be taken in context. In 30 plus years working on diesel engines, Balding sees one recurring issue when it comes to diesel fuel — cleanliness.

“Diesel is a dirty fuel, and after years of use buildup will occur in storage tanks and the engine fuel system,” says Balding.

“Biodiesel has solvent properties and will remove this buildup. Farmers need to realize that their fuel storage and equipment tanks must be clean, and they need to change filters on a regular basis. Once the transition to biodiesel blended fuel is complete, then your system is clean and you can return to a regular maintenance schedule as recommended by your engine manufacturer.”

Balding is a biodiesel proponent and is hopeful that when his students graduate they will have a solid understanding of the many benefits of biodiesel.

“It’s time to ignore the myths and embrace biodiesel for what it is — a good fuel that is good for our environment and economy.”

"Our students learn about the biodiesel production process firsthand, and we burn various blends of biodiesel in our engines, looking at the characteristics of horsepower and torque, and how the engine is responding to the fuel."Scott Balding, Diesel Equipment Technology Instructor, Wabash Valley College

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