Engine makers develop fuel specs to push B20 testing

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The Engine Manufacturers Association has announced the release of a test specification for biodiesel fuel to facilitate testing and evaluation of how blended biodiesel fuels perform in today’s clean-burning diesel engines. The EMA specifications establish technical requirements for blends of petroleum fuel and biodiesel fuel that can be used to assess the effects of such biodiesel fuels on engine performance, durability and emissions.

The EMA specifications – Test Specifications for Biodiesel Fuel – defines a biodiesel blend fuel with the properties and characteristics that engine manufacturers believe are needed to ensure good performance in today’s engines. Engine manufacturers consider the specifications a critical and necessary first step in further testing and evaluating fuel blends with biodiesel content greater than 5 percent.

“Engine manufacturers recognize that federal and state policy makers are evaluating the potential energy and air quality benefits that may be associated with the expanded use of high-quality biodiesel fuel blends,” says Jed Mandel, EMA President. “However, before the nation moves to increase the biodiesel content of the diesel fuel supply, engine manufacturers and biodiesel producers must fully evaluate biodiesel fuels. The development of a test specification for a blended fuel with 20 percent biodiesel content is intended to jump-start the testing and evaluation process.

“Today’s diesel engines are 90 percent cleaner and also are more fuel-efficient than those used just a decade ago, and on-highway engines slated for introduction in 2007 will reduce particulate and hydrocarbon emissions by another 90 percent”, continued Mandel. “These high-performance, low-emitting diesels require high-performance fuels that meet exacting specifications and are of consistently high quality. Engine manufacturers need assurance that biodiesel blends are an acceptable fuel, and that their use in state-of-the-art engines does not have a negative impact on performance, durability, or the ability to meet near-zero emissions limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

“Considering the tremendous investment that engine manufacturers and the nation have made to develop today’s low-emitting and energy-efficient diesel technology, we cannot just assume that biodiesel is better. We have to know that a biodiesel blend fuel meets all engine requirements and its use results in equivalent performance and emissions. Our customers and the public deserve no less.”

The EMA Test Specifications for Biodiesel Fuel establish a baseline B20 biodiesel blend that can be used for further testing and evaluation. EMA encourages vehicle owners interested in using biodiesel blends to request that the fuel meet the EMA specifications and that biodiesel fuel providers also produce blends meeting the EMA requirements and BQ 9000 production standards. Importantly, the EMA specifications are not an approved national fuel standard, and should not be used as such.

“EMA developed this specification as a means to support the nation’s efforts to evaluate alternative energy sources, including biodiesel fuels,” Mandel said. “Fuels from domestically produced biomass can reduce the nation’s demand for imported oil, expand markets for agricultural crops, and may favorably affect the emissions equation related to gases associated with global warming. Engine manufacturers look forward to working with the National Biodiesel Board and other stakeholders to further evaluate biodiesel fuels. We are hopeful that the additional research and evaluation of biodiesel fuels that meet the EMA B20 test specifications will speed the development of a national biodiesel blend fuel standard which assures satisfactory performance in all diesel engines.”

Copies of the Test Specifications for Biodiesel Fuel can be found on the EMA website at www.enginemanufacturers.org.