Q&A: Biodiesel Delivers Strong Performance for Fleets

Fleets consider a lot of different factors when making decisions on fuel purchases — price, supply logistics, the vehicles in their fleet, emissions and more. 

Ultimately, however, the fuel must perform. If not, the fleet risks running into a number of problems. 

Fleets that are not experienced with biodiesel may be surprised to learn that not only does biodiesel perform well in diesel engines, it outperforms petroleum diesel in several key areas. 


What sort of quality standards does biodiesel meet?

Biodiesel’s quality is backed by ASTM International, which has set specifications for the fuel with ASTM D6751. The ASTM process is rigorous, and that’s particularly true for the committee responsible for the biodiesel standard, which is one of the organization’s oldest technical committees and its biggest, with more than 2,500 industry experts serving as members. The voluntary BQ-9000® program goes further, combining ASTM specs with additional quality assurance steps. 

What’s an example of a superior biodiesel spec?

One indication of a fuel’s quality is its Cetane number. 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.

How else does biodiesel help improve performance?

Biodiesel adds lubricity that is lacking in ULSD. Diesel vehicles rely on fuel to lubricate the fuel injection system, including the fuel pump and injectors. Without enough lubrication, these components can experience unnecessary wear and damage. Proper lubricity management can also help engines run smoother, more quietly and cooler. 

Can biodiesel help me with my DPF headache?

Most on- and off-road diesel vehicles now have diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to capture soot and reduce harmful emissions. DPFs must go through a regeneration process to prevent clogging. This can occur while a vehicle is in operation, but that can hurt fuel economy and performance. That means increasing the interval between regens can help fleet performance. Biodiesel has lower emissions than petroleum diesel, including particulate matter. That can mean fewer regens and less maintenance on the regen system with the use of biodiesel.  

Do you have data to back up the lower emissions claim?

A B20 blend (20 percent biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) can reduce particulate matter and carbon monoxide emissions by more than 10% and unburned hydrocarbons can be reduced by more than 20% in heavy-duty highway engines. Also, a 2018 study found biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.


[1] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.2c00289.

BQ-9000 is a licensed trademark of the National Biodiesel Board, used with permission.




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