PART 3: Using Other Fuels and Blends in Cold Weather Months
Welcome to Part 3 of our three-part series on cold properties of fuels. Previously, we covered Cloud Point and cold-flow parameters, and then how best to use biodiesel in cold temperatures. If you missed it, here is Part 1 and here is Part 2.
How Do Cold Temps Affect Renewable Diesel?
The Cloud Point of renewable diesel depends on how much the producer isomerizes the paraffins during production. That’s pretty technical, but the gist is that it depends on the manufacturer’s fuel production process. Not all renewable diesel producers isomerize their product the same amount, which means that the Cloud Point of the finished renewable diesel can vary.
Most — but not all — renewable diesel producers in the U.S. follow commonly accepted pipeline specs and seasonality guidance for Cloud Point. With more producers coming online, and not all pipeline specifications being uniform across the U.S., customers should be aware that the Cloud Point of renewable diesel may not be the same geographically or seasonally.
Blending biodiesel and renewable diesel together is becoming more common as well — our proprietary blend of the two is called REG Ultra Clean®. This product capitalizes on the lower Cloud Point of the renewable diesel, but also captures some of the key properties of the biodiesel — such as lubricity and even lower criteria emissions — that the renewable diesel does not have.
It’s also worth noting that petroleum diesel’s Cloud Point, like that of renewable diesel, varies seasonally and geographically. Each diesel refiner has a different crude oil that they work with, and may use different operational conditions in their refinery, which affects the cold flow properties and Cloud Point of the fuel.
Where Do Additives Enter the Mix?
Winter cold flow improver additives for diesel fuel can help minimize winter operability challenges. There are tips to keep in mind, though.
If you use biodiesel blends, make sure to use a quality winter cold flow improver additive that is designed to meet the needs of biodiesel-blended fuel. Additives that work for 100% petroleum diesel may not be right for biodiesel blended fuel.
Introduce any additives at a temperature that’s high enough to ensure both the fuel and the additive flow easily. Bulk fuel that’s colder than the additive’s handling temperature can chill the additive and prevent good mixing.
It also helps to introduce the additive while the fuel is in motion. If the additive is denser than the fuel, add it to the top of the tank. If the additive is less dense, add it to the bottom of the tank.
To put it simply, you can absolutely use biodiesel in the winter, including higher blends, and a good supplier/producer can help you dial in the right mix for you. If you still have questions after reading this three-part series, feel free to contact us any time.