Earlier this year, NATSO launched the Alternative Fuels Council to help operators understand alternative fuels markets, including available government incentives, to effectively incorporate alternative fuels into their supply offerings.
Among the Council’s initial offerings is a new Biodiesel Fuel Quality Plan. The plan is designed to help those who blend, market and distribute biodiesel blends ensure the final product they sell meets a minimum standard of quality. The program is offered to all petroleum marketers and retailers.
Stop Watch sat down with NATSO Fuel Specialist Jeff Hove to learn more about the program, including its significant discounts on fuel testing, and why it is important for the industry.
What does the Biodiesel Fuel Quality Plan incorporate?
The Fuel Quality Plan is a step-by-step guide to the biodiesel blending process for those who blend, market and distribute biodiesel. It offers guidance on fuel quality management, including sampling procedures, protocols and proposed schedules, to help ensure that alternative fuel meets the required ASTM fuel quality standards. It has been designed to allow our industry to blend biodiesel safely and in a manner that allows us to obtain biodiesel blending incentive credits.
Why did you develop the Biodiesel Fuel Quality Plan?
Maintaining fuel quality is increasingly important to today’s fuel retailers amid the growing number of fuel offerings and renewable fuel blending options. Fuel quality impacts our equipment and our customer relationships.
Ultimately, the quality of the fuel sold to the consumer is our responsibility because we are the face selling the fuel to the public. Because we as retailers are bringing those two blend stocks together, if there is something wrong with the final blended fuel, it is going to reflect badly on us. Sometimes it reflects so badly on us that the consumer wants to sue us or a regulatory agency wants to penalize us and we really have no way of protecting ourselves. The quality plan is a means to show the customer and the regulator that we are using best-practices when blending the two products together. We are sampling the products and we have a plan in place to help protect consumers as well as our business.
Sampling also provides us with fuel quality data that can indicate water, bacteria or other destructive components that can severely damage fuel equipment. We need to better determine what is at the root of fuel quality issues and we must have data to back that up. Our goal is to create a historic look at fuel quality, so we may determine trends in fuel quality issues.
What is your goal for the program?
The primary goal is to give the downstream party a higher level of assurance related to the quality of the unblended fuels they are buying, in this case that is ultra-low-sulfur diesel and straight biodiesel (B100). When they buy those fuels, they get a certificate of analysis that says ‘this fuel meets this standard,’ but we know that those that sell us the fuel do not run testing on every batch of fuel. As a result, there is no way that that certificate
of analysis is indicative of that actual gallon the retailers are blending. We wanted to give the downstream folks a cost-effective means to sample those fuels whenever they feel it is necessary.
Also, blenders are responsible for bringing these two products together and are responsible for doing that in such a way that they don’t create a bad end product. The plan provides clear guidance on how retailers can ensure they are providing quality fuels which meet industry specifications.
Can you tell us more about the sampling and testing aspect of the program?
The Fuel Quality Plan puts a suggested testing schedule in front of the user. We adjust that schedule based on where operators are doing business, what issues they see and the seasonal changes they experience. That could mean that in the cold months when we’re more susceptible to misfuelling issues, you’re testing more often. No matter how often you’re testing, operators should take a sample of every batch and at least retain it for possible future testing.
Testing can be costly, and the Alternative Fuels Council has worked to bring that cost down to make it more feasible for op- erators. To run a full ASTM D975 diesel analysis, for example, costs could exceed $900 per sample. We looked at the components of the ASTM D975 standard and identified what causes the majority of misfuelling issues. That is going to allow us to offer downstream marketers up to a 75 percent reduction in the cost to analyze fuel. The more prescriptive sampling approach will save industry a tremendous amount of money.
Do you have plans to expand this type of guidance to other fuels?
Yes, we’re going to look at mid-level ethanol blending, compressed natural gas and renewable compressed natural gas. We could eventually get into hydrogen and electric vehicle infrastructure as well. NATSO started this initiative because there was an obvious demand for getting assistance with new fuels the industry is offering and our goal is to provide that information.
How do I get a copy of the Fuel Quality Plan?
A preview of the Fuel Quality Plan is available on the Alternative Fuels Council website at www.natsoaltfuels.com. To request a full copy, please send an email request to email@example.com with your company’s information.
How do I take advantage of the Alternative Fuel Council Fuel Quality Plan discount on fuel screening testing?
To register and participate in the fuel screening program:
- Visit the Fuel Testing Packages page under the Resources tab on www.natsoaltfuels.com.
- Click on the blue “Register” button.
- Complete registration with the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory.
- Under the Testing Services tab on the lab website, select the Quality Check Test Package of your choice (B100, B6-B20, diesel).
Please send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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