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ASTM Approves New Biodiesel Blend Specifications

June 20, 2008

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The ASTM International D02 Main Committee late last week approved a trio of long-awaited ASTM specifications for biodiesel blends.


After more than five years of extensive research and subsequent balloting by the ASTM fuel experts in the blended fuel balloting process, ASTM voted to approve three key sets of biodiesel specifications:

* Changes to the existing B100 biodiesel blend stock specification (ASTM D6751)

* Finished specifications to include up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) in the conventional petrodiesel specification (ASTM D975)
* A new specification for blends of between 6 percent biodiesel (B6) to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) for on and off road diesel.

Automakers and engine manufacturers have been requesting a finished blend specification for B20 biodiesel blends for several years, with some citing the need for that spec as the single greatest hurdle preventing their full-scale acceptance of B20 use in their diesel vehicles.

"The new ASTM specifications for B6-B20 blends will aid engine manufacturers in their engine design and testing processes to optimize the performance of vehicles running on biodiesel," said Steve Howell, Chairman of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. "The new specifications will also help ensure that only the highest quality biodiesel blends are made available to consumers at the retail pump."

The Las Vegas Valley Water District, which has been using biodiesel for years, welcomed the news. "We have been running our entire fleet on B20 biodiesel blends for the past seven years in order to meet state requirements for alternative fuel use, and because it is the right thing to do to help clean up our environment," said James Morwood, fleet services manager. "In some cases that has meant exceeding the biodiesel blend level recommend by some of the automakers represented in our fleet. It is reassuring to know that those automakers now have the ASTM specifications they have said they need in order for them to fully support B20 use."

The approval of ASTM specifications for inclusion of up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) in the regular diesel fuel pool also means that biodiesel could soon become more readily available at retail fueling stations nationwide.

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