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Biodiesel Blend Performs Like Petroleum Diesel

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: diesel, biodiesel, trucks, machinery,

Hank Will and Highland cattle.Just when I was sure the petroleum lobby would squash any possibility of mainstreaming biodiesel, engineers at Purdue University (my youngest daughter Alaina’s alma mater) beat back the naysayers big time. How did they do it? They used real science and a real live study to prove the value of biodiesel in big rigs.

Turns out that there are virtually no performance issues for rigs hauling loads running on a diet of B-20 (diesel blend with 20 percent biodiesel content) compared with those guzzling ultra-low-sulfur diesel, which is the current standard for road fuel in the United States. The study followed 10 semis for more than 1.5 million miles over the course of a year and kept track of idling time, average speed, engine load percentage and engine speed.

Big rigs perform well on a diet of biodiesel.

Photo: iStock David Freund

Once the study was complete and the statistics were analyzed, engineers concluded that there were no real differences in performance, fuel economy, fuel test results, engine oil analyses or service and maintenance costs in biodiesel-fueled rigs compared with those burning the ultra-low-sulfur fuel. The B-20 did cost an average of 13 cents a gallon more than the ultra-low-sulfur. It should be noted that the B-20 fuel exceeded the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission’s standards. What does that say to the petroleum lobby, I wonder? I guess biodiesel can be good stuff, eh?

It’s my hope that engine manufacturers will now extend warranties to those who choose to run a little green through their trucks, tractors and construction equipment. Go Boilermakers!

Purdue engineer John Lumkes is a proponent of biodiesel.

John Lumkes found that a 20 percent blend of biodiesel fuel performed as well in trucks as the standard ultra-low sulfur diesel. Differences in the fuels' performances were statistically insignificant. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .