4 Tips for Using Higher Biodiesel Blends in Cold Weather


It’s become common knowledge that low blends of biodiesel can remain part of a fleet’s winter fuel program, but did you know that B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% ULSD) or higher can be successful in cold temperatures too?


Biodiesel offers benefits that no operation should give up just because the mercury drops. It improves lubricity and offers higher Cetane — two major performance perks — while drastically lowering emissions. Because it’s a cleaner fuel than petroleum diesel, it also sends less particulate matter to the DPF, reducing major maintenance headaches. And finally, in some cities, states and provinces, there are financial incentives for using biodiesel.


So what should you know to keep biodiesel in the mix this winter? Here are four key considerations.


  1. It’s all about quality and reliable supply.


    If your fuel comes from a producer who emphasizes quality and can distribute consistently, you’re off to a great start. One proven quality boost is to utilize distilled biodiesel. Just like you might think of alcohol being smoother the more it’s been distilled, biodiesel works better in the winter when it has been distilled too.


  2. Understand your Cloud Point needs.


    Cloud Point is the temperature at which a fuel starts to gel. It’s a big indicator of storage and handling temps as well. Some people believe biodiesel gels or freezes a lot easier than ULSD, but the technology in the industry has come a long way and so has biodiesel’s cold temp performance. Cloud Point is closely related to quality, so it makes sense that distilled and cold filtered fuels will also be of higher quality. And just like with diesel fuel, using quality winter additives when needed can help fleets run on biodiesel in the coldest weather.


  3. Consider how you use and store fuel.


    If an over-the-road fleet turns a tank of fuel quickly, cold temperatures may not be as much of a concern as they would be for a farmer who uses it less often in the winter and the fuel sits in the cold longer. By the same token, if you have a more sophisticated underground storage system with heated or insulated lines, temperatures are not as potentially problematic as they are for an above ground, uninsulated tank. None of this means you must remove biodiesel from the equation, though — it just means some adjustments may be required.


  4. Who’s on your side and ready to help?


It can be hard to stay on top of all the possible factors that go into deciding on and acquiring the right fuel blend for your operation. That’s why a good relationship with your supplier is important. For example, our customer service and technical teams work closely together to monitor conditions in their customers’ areas and can help them adjust before temperatures take a nosedive. We enjoy helping customers create a blending program based on seasonality and their unique needs.


Today, B5 is considered the same as regular diesel fuel and should be utilized year-round as a minimum effort toward higher-performing, lower-emitting transport. What’s exciting is that B100 is even possible year-round now, thanks to affordable enabling technology. It just comes down to fuel quality and a team you can trust.


To hear a more in-depth conversation about cold weather biodiesel use, check out our podcast episode on the topic.

About Renewable Energy Group

Renewable Energy Group, Inc. is leading the energy and transportation industries’ transition to sustainability by transforming renewable resources into high-quality, sustainable fuels. Renewable Energy Group is an international producer of sustainable fuels that significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions to immediately reduce carbon impact. Renewable Energy Group utilizes a global integrated procurement, distribution and logistics network to operate 12 biorefineries in the U.S. and Europe. In 2020, Renewable Energy Group produced 519 million gallons of cleaner fuel delivering 4.2 million metric tons of carbon reduction. Renewable Energy Group is meeting the growing global demand for lower-carbon fuels and leading the way to a more sustainable future.