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Longtime Mechanic Sold On Benefits Of Biodiesel

Posted in: Fuel and Trucking, Biodiesel


/// Guest post by contributor Jon ScharingsonRenewable Energy Group

There are a lot of myths out there about biodiesel.

Its use voids equipment warranties. It doesn’t work in the cold. It doesn’t perform as well as petro diesel. I can tell you why those are all false. Instead, I’ll share the words of someone who probably knows more about diesel engines than you or I:

“I just feel that biodiesel is better for the engine than conventional diesel,” says Scott Balding.

Balding bases that statement on his 35 years of experience working on diesel engines and as a third-generation technician. He also leads the diesel equipment technology program at Wabash Valley College in Illinois, a role in which he educates and trains men and women about diesel technology and fuels to prepare them for careers as diesel equipment technicians.

For the past several years, biodiesel production and how engines respond to the fuel have been part of the curriculum.

One area of focus has been how lubricity influences the fine tolerances in the fuel systems. Biodiesel adds lubricity — which is absent in ultra-low-sulfur diesel — back into the fuel mixture, which is important for maintaining engine functionality.

According to Balding, as little as 2 percent biodiesel can provide 66 percent more lubricity when added to petroleum diesel fuel. Perhaps the most important aspect is the low sulfur content.

“In the last few years, the fuel industry has reduced the amount of sulfur from 500 parts per million down to 15 parts per million in petroleum diesel fuel,” Balding says. “But sulfur has lubricating properties, so when you remove it from diesel, you lose lubrication. When you add biodiesel, even at just 1 or 2 percent, you bring back that lubricity, but not the sulfur.”

Biodiesel also has advantages in what Balding considers the biggest ongoing fuel-related issue he’s encountered: fuel cleanliness, or lack thereof.

“Biodiesel has solvent properties and can remove the buildup in storage tanks and fuel systems from years of diesel use,” he says. “Equipment owners and operators need to realize that their fuel storage and equipment tanks must be clean, and they need to change filters on a regular basis. Once the transition to biodiesel blended fuel is complete, then your system is clean and you can return to a regular maintenance schedule as recommended by your engine manufacturer.”

Like Balding’s students, engine manufacturers are increasingly recognizing biodiesel’s value, with the majority of OEMs supporting biodiesel blends in their products.

“At first, many of the engine manufacturers approached biodiesel with caution,” Balding says. “However, as the biodiesel industry adopted ASTM specifications and minimum quality standards, the engine manufacturers have embraced biodiesel.” 


/// Read more guest posts on biodiesel posts here

{Guest Post} Guest post provided by NATSO Chairman's Circle member Jon Scharingson, Renewable Energy Group. RRenewable Energy Group, Inc. 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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Jon Scharingson

Jon Scharingson