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3 Ways Distilled Biodiesel Can Give Truckstops a Competitive Advantage

Posted in: Fuel and Trucking, Biodiesel


/// Guest post by contributor Jon ScharingsonRenewable Energy Group

Each year around this time, when temperatures are at their lowest, is when the number of questions I receive about biodiesel Cloud Point seem to hit their peak.

Cloud Point is the temperature at which wax crystals cause fuel to appear cloudy — and it’s commonly used to determine biodiesel’s cold performance properties.

When I get those questions — or when I hear concerns about a higher Cloud Point product — I use it as an opportunity to share with that person the advantages of biodiesel that has been purified using distillation. And that’s what I’ll do in this blog post, because truck stop operators should know about the significant benefits they and their customers can realize with distilled biodiesel, including:

  1. Superior cold weather performance after blending with petroleum diesel
  2. Lower carbon intensity (CI) and increased Cetane through feedstock flexibility
  3. Easier blending with petroleum diesel

Those are the top three benefits we’ll focus on in this article. If you want to take a deeper dive into the topic, including the science behind distillation, download our free white paper on distilled biodiesel.

Superior cold weather performance
Distilled biodiesel has advanced cold performance properties because distillation does a better job than other purification methods at removing certain minor components that can contribute to filter plugging issues when using biodiesel blends. Far too often people think Cloud Point is the only thing that matters when using biodiesel blends in cold conditions. But distilled biodiesel with a higher Cloud Point can outperform undistilled low cloud biodiesel in cold weather after blending with petroleum diesel.

Feedstock flexibility
The ability to create high-quality biodiesel from a variety of feedstocks — feedstock flexibility, as we call it at REG — has a couple of big advantages. One is the ability to make biodiesel from feedstocks such as animal fats, used cooking oil and inedible corn oil that can provide a lower carbon intensity  score, which is the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing and consuming a fuel. As an added bonus, biodiesel Cetane increases along with Cloud Point, so customers get a premium Cetane fuel when using higher Cloud Point distilled biodiesel, which improves combustion quality and reduces undesirable exhaust emissions.

Some of the feedstocks with favorable CI scores and higher Cetane can result in biodiesel with a higher Cloud Point. But with Cloud Point being less of an issue with a distilled product, users can get a fuel with lower carbon intensity to help them reach sustainability goals and increased Cetane to improve engine performance — all while performing well in cold weather. 

Feedstock flexibility also provides more nimbleness in the commodity markets. If a particular feedstock is experiencing price or supply fluctuations, we can turn to another feedstock and know that our end product will still meet customer specifications expectations.
Ease of blending
You may be sensing a theme related to the removal of minor components in the distillation process — and it has yet another benefit. It helps create the purest type of biodiesel. A purer biodiesel means there are fewer minor components. Fewer minor components means less effort is required to fully mix the biodiesel molecules and petroleum diesel molecules. 

Free white paper
If you’d like to learn more about distilled biodiesel, including the distillation process and how it differs from the traditional method of purifying biodiesel, read this white paper. 

 /// Read more guest posts on biodiesel posts here

Photos credit: Renewable Energy Group

{Guest Post} Guest post provided by NATSO Chairman's Circle member Jon Scharingson, Renewable Energy Group. REG is a leading North American advanced biofuels producer and developer of renewable chemicals. REG utilizes a nationwide production, distribution and logistics system as part of an integrated value chain model to focus on converting natural fats, oils and greases into advanced biofuels and converting diverse feedstocks into renewable chemicals. Learn more about Renewable Energy Group.

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

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About the Author

Jon Scharingson

Jon Scharingson