4 Ways Biodiesel Helps Improve Fleet Performance

Here’s a fun fact: Every OEM producing diesel vehicles in the U.S. approves of the use of biodiesel blends of up to 5 percent (known as B5). 

There’s more. Nearly 90 percent of medium- and heavy-duty truck OEMs support the use of B20 blends with their products, meaning the fuel contains 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel.

These stats, courtesy of the National Biodiesel Board, may come as a surprise given the misperception among some people that biodiesel is not good for engines and can void warranties. 

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That’s simply not true. In fact, biodiesel has positive effects on engines. Here are four examples:

1. Cetane — The ASTM specification for biodiesel requires a minimum Cetane number of 47. The ASTM diesel spec is 40. Higher Cetane equals a shorter ignition time and better performance.

2. Lubricity — Removing the sulfur in diesel fuel to create ULSD took most of the lubricity out of the fuel. Adding as little as a B2 blend provides the necessary lubricity. This too is critical for performance. Modern diesel engines rely on fuel to aid in the lubricating process and provide protection against wear and damage. Proper lubricity management can also help engines run smoother, cooler and more quietly.

3. Drop-in fuel — Want to start running your tractor trailer or work truck on B20? Just pump it into your tank. Biodiesel blends don’t require any vehicle or infrastructure upgrades.

4. Lower carbon intensity — Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning fuel with significantly lower emissions than ULSD. That’s important for fleets with sustainability goals of their own or that haul goods for customers with sustainability plans. It also may be a requirement for fleets that operate in jurisdictions with carbon-reduction policies, like the low carbon fuel standard programs in California and Oregon.

 

Real-world results

Illinois-based G&D Integrated is a fleet that has experienced these benefits first hand. Before fully committing to biodiesel, it conducted a months-long experiment to determine whether running on biodiesel blends would affect its 400-plus vehicle fleet.

“What we saw was a slight increase in efficiency,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at G&D Integrated. “We were able to prove empirically, through quantitative data, that there was no degradation in our fuel efficiency.”

G&D Integrated started at a B11 blend and, happy with the experience, soon started running on B20 in warmer months. Now it uses B20 year-round. 

“We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” Buonassi says. “We’ve actually been awarded freight based on our biodiesel usage.”

Learn more about the company’s testing and its experience with biodiesel by watching this short case study video.