Category Archives: Biodiesel Quality

Producer Spotlight: New Leaf Biofuel


Driving with Propel biodiesel in Southern California? Here’s a look at the amazing people & process behind your favorite fuel. New Leaf Biofuel based out of San Diego California has been producing high quality biodiesel with pride and purpose since 2005.  Started by a group of innovative recent college grads, New Leaf has a mission firmly grounded in their San Diego community: to enhance air quality, sustainability, and strengthen the local economy.


The high quality biodiesel produced by New Leaf starts off as fryer grease and waste oil from local restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other businesses. New Leaf collects the used cooking oil and brings it back to their production facility, which is conveniently located right in San Diego. Once at the plant, the waste grease is filtered, purified, and cleaned up–all to prepare for the processor that turns the oil into high grade biodiesel ready to be distributed to fleets and retailers, like Propel Fuels!

“The best thing a potential consumer of biodiesel can do is to find a manufacturer who is strict about control,” said CEO Jennifer Case in a Union-Tribe San Diego article highlighting New Leaf. “We are trying to make a product that is going to be accepted in the marketplace. Therefore we have to be really strict about our quality standards. If everybody else who makes biodiesel did the same thing, we would be able to go into the next level and become a fuel that people used commonly and that states, cities and commercial fleets were confident that it wasn’t going to harm their engine.”


The waste-grease-to-biodiesel-fuel is win-win setup on several levels. First of all, instead of paying  to dispose of waste grease, businesses and organizations with industrial kitchens have a reliable revenue stream from selling their used cooking oil New Leaf. Secondly, as a domestic (really, hometown) facility, New Leaf creates valuable industrial jobs that support the local economy. And, last but not least, New Leaf produces a cleaner-burning fuel from renewable resources for use in diesel engines across San Diego.

Creating value for business. Supporting the domestic economy. And helping to make a healthier, more sustainable community. All in a days work. Nicely done, New Leaf!

Fill up with New Leaf’s biodiesel at select Propel locations in Southern California.

Learn more about Propel’s renewable fuel producer partners.

B20 Biodiesel powers land speed record

This is not your granddady’s diesel pickup truck. The Hajek Motor’s Ford F250 Super Duty powertrain truck recently broke the land speed record for diesel vehicles on the Bonneville Saltflats–then they filled ‘er up with Biodiesel B20, turned around, and broke the record again!

The previous speed record was set by a BMW motorcycle at 130 mph. The Hajek Ford F250 had slight modifications to upgrade the fuel injectors, fuel system, and turbocharge, but was otherwise mostly stock. Running petroleum diesel, the truck reach over 177 mph, but with biodiesel B20 they smashed the record, reaching speeds over 182 mph.

Depending on the feedstock, biodiesel delivers greater energy density than petroleum diesel. According to the National Biodiesel Board, the B20 used by Hajek was produced by a Missouri biodiesel plant and purchased and donated by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council.

Read more from Autoblog.

BMW diesel Super Bowl ad. Fueling ch-ch-change.

Waste fats into renewable Dynamic Fuels

In Geismar, LA, Dynamic Fuels’ production facility is converting non-food grade tallow and other animal fats into ASTM-certified renewable diesel fuel.

The production facility, a joint venture of Syntroleum Corporation and Tyson Foods, Inc., began processing fuel in early October and is currently producing 2,500 barrels a day.

Dynamic’s diesel fuel is made from renewable sources, reducing carbon emissions by  75%. What’s more, the performance specifications outshine petroleum diesel, boasting cetane rating of 88, more than twice that of regular diesel.

Read more from Syntroleum.

Propel tours San Diego’s New Leaf biodiesel production facility

New Leaf Biofuel is a waste-source biodiesel production company located in San Diego, CA. Propel had the opportunity to tour the New Leaf facility earlier this week.

Jennifer Case, CEO of New Leaf, hosted the facility tour, walking through the production process of using waste-oil and waste-grease refined into quality biodiesel fuel ready to put straight into tanks. New Leaf collects waste oil and grease from local San Diego restaurants to use as the feedstock for their biodiesel production.

New Leaf is a great example of a local producer working within a community to process waste products into quality renewable fuel.

Learn more about New Leaf Biofuels.

US Senator Patty Murray and Propel discuss economic impacts of biodiesel industry

Monday morning, Senator Patty Murray (D – WA) & Propel hosted a press conference to discuss support for the Biodiesel Blenders Tax Credit and its positive impacts on job growth, carbon emissions reduction and national security. Since the tax credit was left to expire in January, US biodiesel production has largely screeched to a halt. As a result, many producers including Imperium Renewables have looked to markets outside of the US to sell its fuel. The industry’s message was clear; renew the tax credit and our industry will immediately increase production, and create jobs.

The event was held at Propel Fuels Clean Fuel Point, the first renewable fuels station in downtown Seattle, Senator Murray was joined by the leaders of companies from up and down the biodiesel value chain (bioscience, refining, production and retail consumer access), who discussed the importance of the extension of the tax credit currently being debated in Congress.

Speakers included Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels, Todd Ellis, VP of Business Development for Imperium Renewables, Dr. Margaret McCormick, COO for Targeted Growth, and Cameron Hewes, President and CEO of General Biodiesel.

Biodiesel Bulletin: Biodiesel delivers sweet treats

Propel customer, Essential Baking Company, is highlighted in the latest edition of the National Biodiesel Board’s monthly bulletin.

“The Web site for The Essential Baking Company in Seattle says it all: “We’re fussy. Fussy about taste, the texture of our bread, the flakiness of our pastry, the richness of our desserts, and preserving the time-honored techniques of baking. And don’t even get us started about the importance of the pureness of what we put into our bodies or our impact on the environment.”

That commitment to the environment is fulfilled in part by using 99 percent biodiesel . . .” Read more from the National Biodiesel board.

Amtrak runs biodiesel in America’s heartland

Earlier this week, Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer train made its first journey powered by B20 biodiesel.

The Heartland Flyer will run on tallow-based B20 biodiesel for the next year with plans to potentially expand the program to the entire system. The Heartland Flyer uses over 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel every year on its 400-mile route between Fort Worth, TX and Oklahoma City, OK.

The biodiesel test program is funded by a federal government grant. Amtrak will monitor and track train performance and emission reductions from the use of biodiesel.

The majority of Amtrak’s passenger trains burn petroleum diesel. In one year, Amtrak trains use over 62 million gallons of fuel. Switching to B20 biodiesel would significantly reduce consumption of petroleum diesel and has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by almost 200 million pounds.

More about the Heartland Flyer’s biodiesel test.

Enterprise’s shuttle fleet to run biodiesel

Enterprise, the largest vehicle rental company in North America, announced plans to fuel their entire airport shuttle fleet of more than 600 buses on biodiesel. Most shuttle buses will begin by using a B5 biodiesel blend, while in nine regions, buses will use a B20 blend with the intention of converting the entire bus fleet to B20 in the next five years.

By switching to biodiesel, the Enterprise fleet will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of retiring 40 shuttle buses and will reduce petroleum use by 420,000 gallons–in the first year alone.

In California, Propel Fuels and Enterprise have formed a partnership aimed to educate Enterprise customers on the availability and benefits of alternative fuels, and to fuel Enterprise’s rental cars with renewable E85.

Read more from Enterprise.

Study affirms health benefits of biodiesel for America’s miners

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) has published a new report that updates the mining community on biodiesel’s continued positive effects underground. After testing multiple biodiesel blends MSHA concluded that biodiesel reduces emissions, especially when combined with the use of after-treatment devices on diesel engines. “The result is a cleaner and healthier working environment for miners,” MSHA states.

Hutchinson Salt Company in Kansas was the first mine of any kind to use B99 biodiesel (a 99 percent biodiesel fuel mix). Since 2003, the company has used up to 30,000 gallons of B99 a year.

Their employees noted cleaner air in the mines within days after the switch to biodiesel. B99 powers all their underground diesel equipment, ranging from loaders to diesel pickups to tractors. Max Liby, vice president of manufacturing, says they have seen no reduction in performance even when machines run 20 consecutive hours.

Read Report

U.S. jets on alterative fuel

The U.S. Air Force plans on using domestically produced Camelina-based jet fuel supplied by Sustainable Oils. The Defense Energy Support Center agreed to use 100,000 gallons through 2010 with the possibility for using another 100,000 gallons in the following two years.

Camelina is a non-food oilseed crop grown in parts of Oregon, Washington and Montana. In addition to the high quality of fuel produced from camelina, it can reduce carbon emissions by more than 80%.

“This is a great opportunity for Montana farmers to not only drive additional revenue, but also participate directly in decreasing our country’s reliance on foreign oil,” said Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer in the press release. “I know our agricultural community is up to the challenge to supply our armed forces with camelina-based fuels.”

Read more from Sustainable Oils.

1000 Acres of Next Generation Fuel


Cellulosic feedstock projects are beginning to scale in size and frequency. An example of this is the 1,000 acre switchgrass plot in Oklahoma, now in its second year. The project is led by the Ardmore-based Noble Foundation, and strands are reaching 3 ft in height.
Unlike corn, switchgrass doesn’t need to be replanted each year. It also takes less tractor-fuel and fertilizer to produce, can be grown on marginal land and doesn’t require as much water.

Read More

Fulcrum Advances Ethanol from Waste

fulcrum_sierraHigh quality biodiesel refined from waste sources is becoming common, and has the lowest carbon footprint of any liquid fuel. In fact, much of the biodiesel sold by Propel, the highest-quality clean fuel available, comes from recycled fats and oils. And now strides are being made in waste-to-ethanol production through advances by companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy. Fulcrum is working to derive commercial-scale ethanol from municipal waste — and recently ran their first demo proving they are on their way to reaching that goal.

The successful demonstration has spurred the development of commercial scale production. Construction on Fulcrum’s municipal solid waste to ethanol plant, Sierra BioFuels, is set to begin this year. Located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, in the City of McCarran, Storey County, Nevada, the plant will convert 90,000 tons of MSW into 10.5 million gallons of ethanol per year.
More from NY Times

More on Fulcrum

Cut the Cardboard When Making a Move

Customer Profile: FROGBOX


Propel customer FROGBOX is changing the way Seattle moves. In city that uses about 1 million cardboard boxes per month for moving purposes alone, FROGBOX offers a low impact alternative.  It makes sense they use alternative fuels (Yes, that’s Propel’s South Lake Union Station in the background). FROGBOX supplies Seattle with eco-friendly, reusable moving boxes that makes a move easier on you and the environment.

“There’s a widely-held false perception that since it’s cardboard, it will just be recycled and used again, but cardboard and paper products take up 40 percent of our state’s landfills, and OCC (old corrugated cardboard) is one of the most commonly found items in industrial and residential waste streams,” said Jeff Hill of FROGBOX.

So how do you lose the cardboard when preparing for a move?
1. Call FROGBOX at 1-877-FROGBOX or visit
2. FROGBOX delivers the eco-friendly moving totes and containers
3. You pack and move
4. They pick up the containers when you’re done

Easy enough! We’d like to thank FROGBOX for using clean, alternative fuels – and for making a move a whole lot easier.

Biodiesel station’s green features earn Propel ‘Project of the Month’ title

Propel’s downtown Seattle station  is selected as the Daily Journal of Commerce’s Project of the Month for July.

SLU_Project of the Month

photo by Lara Swimmer

An American icon goes green, smells good too.

Propel Biodiesel’s Seattle station is an urban oasis. Filling up there can be a meditative experience.

If you’re green at heart but still attached to your internal combustion engine, don’t give up hope. If it’s diesel you need, pull your Bug or your tractor-trailer into the South Lake Union station at Broad and Westlake and fill up. It’s roughly the same price per gallon as regular diesel . . .”

Read more from the Daily Journal of Commerce

Fuel from Waste – New Revenue for American Farmers

stoverNot Corn…Cobs. This harvest refuse, typically plowed back into the field, is now a source of fuel for American drivers, and new profit for American farmers.
Making this possible are the leading edge cellulosic ethanol plants like the Iowa based plant currently being built by Poet Energy. The $200 million plant will make cellulosic ethanol, which comes from plant material such as cobs, wood chips and switchgrass. About two dozen cellulosic ethanol projects are being developed or built around the country, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
Poet spokesman Nathan Schock said the company hasn’t yet figured out how much it will pay farmers, but it could be $30 to $60 per ton for corn stover, which includes cobs and some stalk. An average acre in Iowa yields about 1.5 tons of corn stover.
Read more

American Lung Association report shows “Biodiesel Key to Clean Air”

americanlungassocThe State of the Air Report recently released by the American Lung Association shows biodiesel is a key factor to keeping America’s air clean. The American Lung Association in Minnesota described the  report as a “wake up” call to further embrace fuels like biodiesel and is also participating in May 1 activities to kick off Minnesota’s increase to a B5 biodiesel blend. The report named Fargo, North Dakota as the cleanest city in the nation, and the lung association there gave credit to steps like biodiesel use.

Biodiesel is a sustainable, renewable alternative to diesel fuel that reduces most regulated emissions substantially, including carbon monoxide, particulate matter and unburned hydrocarbons.

“With biodiesel, America can produce its own cleaner-burning diesel alternative that helps clean up the air with existing vehicles,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “Biodiesel is a natural solution to help achieve lung associations’ goals to reduce air pollution and safeguard our health. We are grateful for their support and applaud their vision for a cleaner future.”

Biodiesel reduces air toxins by 90 percent, and significantly reduces the compounds linked to cancer. Breathing the smoke from diesel exhaust can trigger an asthma attack. The use of biodiesel reduces particulate matter up to 40 percent.

More information from NBB.

At the Pump . . .

Propel Community members share their stories.

Rocklin, CA – Rocklin Clean Fuel Point – Thursday, April 23rd

Bud is hoping for a Propel station in Nevada County, but until then, he’s happy to fill his Ford F-250 with biodiesel in Rocklin.

“People have told me that it runs more quietly now that I’ve been using biodiesel — less knocks,” says Bud.

Biodiesel does enhance engine lubricity, making diesel engines run more smoothly. Many drivers testify to a smoother, quieter ride with biodiesel fuel.


Propel Fuels Showcases Next Generation Green Diesel at California Diesel Days

bosch_neste_2Propel Fuels, in partnership with Bosch and Neste Oil, helped power California Diesel Days with next generation NExBTL green diesel. Green diesel, also known as renewable diesel, is a synthetic diesel product derived from bio-based oils and fats, and is suitable for use in all diesel motors. This renewable alternative to petroleum improves air quality by reducing particle emissions and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Several of the top-end diesel vehicles displayed at Diesel Days ran on NExBTL.


On display were advanced clean diesels from serveral manufacturers: Mercedes-Benz ML 320 and GL 320, BMW 335d and X5, Audi Q7 and A3 diesel and from Volkswagen, the Jetta TDI and V6 Touareg TDI. 

diesel_days_lineup California Diesel Days brought together automotive industry, state government, and environmental organization representatives focusing on clean diesel passanger vehicle technology. The conference topics included CO2 reduction strategies for California, the latest clean vehicle technologies, and the future of Clean Diesel passenger vehicles. 

More on Propel’s participation in California Diesel Days.

States Logistics’ fleet reduces harmful emissions with the use of biodiesel


With seven diesel vehicles running on biodiesel blends, California-based company, States Logistics was able to reduce the fleet’s CO2 output by over 72 tons! Three vehicles ran on B99 while four ran on a B5 biodiesel blend. The company’s lifecycle carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction demonstration was facilitated by the National Biodiesel Board over a six month period.

“The B99 trucks (three-axle International model 8600) ran 48,198 miles and consumed 8,770 gallons over the six month period. The equivalent straight petroleum diesel output would have been 89.9 tons, but with B99, the output was 19.8 tons for a savings of 70.1 tons. The B5 fleet (two-axle flat bed) traveled 61,433 miles and consumed 7,090 gallons of B5. Equivalent petroleum CO2 output would have been 71.4, with B5 the output was reduced to 68.6 for 2.8 tons of CO2 reduction. In addition to CO2 reduction, an estimated 119 pounds of particulate matter were eliminated from the exhaust during the six month period. Carbon monoxide (CO) was reduced by over 500 pounds, hydrocarbons (HC) by over 50 pounds, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by close to 40 pounds. “


States Logistics looks forward to sharing the results of this demonstration with customers to show the positive impact of using biodiesel. Ryan Donovan, VP of Operations and Business Development of States Logistics, says, “we all benefit from having this information available to show the efforts being made to reduce carbon footprint throughout the supply chain.” 

Read more from the NBB and

Ultimate cold weather biodiesel test

groupalongparkshwyArctic Circle Mission — A hearty group from the Indiana Soybean Alliance set off March 4th to test B100 biodiesel in the frigid temperatures of Alaska. The group aimed to run two trucks and a generator on 100% biodiesel in temperatures down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. The specially formulated biodiesel was five years in the making — ISA, in collaboration with a researcher from Purdue University, developed Permaflo™ Biodiesel, a cold-weather biodiesel made from Hoosier soybeans.

The group drove over 300 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks crossing Denali National Park. And one B100-powered truck continued on to the Arctic Circle, another 200 miles. The biodiesel generator was tested during an overnight camping expedition on the tundra. Camping in the cold may have been rough on the group, but the biodiesel performed without a hitch during the excursion. Read daily entrees from the group’s experience.

Fleet Owner Magazine recognizes Essential Baking Co. and Propel Fuels

B99 trial meets with sweet success

Fleet Owner magazine has named Seattle-based Essential Baking Co.essential_filling Green Fleet of the Month:

“In its quest to be the greenest company possible, Seattle, WA-based Essential Baking Co. didn’t let one roadblock stop it from trying again. The company, which produces bread, pastries and desserts, operates a pair of cafes and sells its baked goods wholesale to restaurants and institutions, wanted its fleet of vehicles as environmentally friendly as possible.

So the company tried test running B99 biodiesel, which went over as well as over-cooked bread. A switch of biodiesel providers, however, made all the difference. A second test in the spring of 2008 produced positive results. While the company isn’t currently running B99, opting instead for the more cost-efficient B20 blend, director of sales and marketing Anna Li says Essential ( would not hesitate to run B99 again.

“I have to give International Leasing a lot of credit,” she says of their leasing company. “They weren’t too happy with the fact that the first test didn’t go too well. And I have to give them credit for the fact that they let us do it again.”

“Responsible for the maintenance on the vehicles, Seattle-based International ( was a little hesitant to approve a second test of B99. “We met with the folks from Propel. They showed us the product; they showed us the test results and samples in a very professional way,” says Todd Daniels, fleet manager for International.

The first test produced numerous operational issues on the fleet’s Sprinter test vehicles. The second test, using biodiesel supplied by Propel, produced a completely different result. “The vehicles ran fine, the drivers liked the vehicles, and we had no cold-weather issues,” says Jeff Stephens, director of science and technology for Propel ( “We were confident the quality [of the B99] was where it should be.”

Read more from Fleet Owner magazine.

Biodiesel is more expensive than ever. Why?

Propel’s commitment to alternative fuel access and sustainability includes economic sustainability. As a retailer, Propel purchases biodiesel at wholesale prices, and sells to our customers at margins equal to or less than traditional Oil Prices Risepetroleum retailers. As wholesale costs rise for biodiesel, Propel is committed to offering clean fuel access at a reasonable price point. And our fuels and vehicles team is aggressively looking at biodiesel supply options that meet our quality, cost and sustainability parameters.

There is one main factor driving the current pricing increase: the price of vegetable oil. In the past 12 months, March 2007 to March 2008, prices have jumped 90% for soy oil.

For biodiesel producers, between 80% – 90% of the input cost of biodiesel production is vegetable oil, like canola and soy oil. And vegetable oil is currently selling at a price equivalent of between $180-$190 per barrel. This is an increase is due to speculation, not market demand. Global demand for consumable veg oils has risen at a consistent 3% level for over two decades and continues at this level. There has not been a significant demand increase, or supply decrease, that explain the price run up in veg oils. Commodities across the board have risen at the same pace- petroleum, minerals, and all agricultural products. On the upside, current economics benefit USA farm communities.

Propel is dedicated to providing the most sustainable and renewable fuels that meet our cost and quality standards. We are working hard to open markets for new feedstocks and technologies that offer viable alternatives to petroleum. Together with you, we are pioneering new ground, creating economic opportunities, and building a sustainable future for our children. We will keep you informed as biodiesel prices change. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to write us. Thank you for your commitment to clean and renewable biodiesel.

We’d also like to credit Becky Lyle, a WA small farm owner, and NW Biodiesel Network, for the ongoing discussion of feedstock costs. Join the NW Biodiesel Network email list, visit

Safeway Goes Biodiesel


Safeway has boldly chosen to become one of the nation’s first major retailers to convert its fleet to clean burning biodiesel. No doubt the benefits of biodiesel were hard for the Pleasonton, California-based company to ignore.

In addition to improved engine performance, less harmful emissions, and a fuel source that isn’t tied to the volatility of the Middle East, none of the company’s 1,000 fleet vehicles will require any major mechanical conversion as biodiesel performs exceptionally well in any diesel motor.

For more information click here.

NW Biodiesel Network Monthly Meeting on Tuesday November 27, 2007.

NW Biodiesel Network Monthly Meeting:

Sustainability in the Biodiesel Industry, a moderated panel of local biodiesel businesses talking about what our biodiesel is made from and how it gets to us.  Moderated by Peter Moulton of Washington State Dept. of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, this panel will include Dr. Dan’s Alternative Fuelwerks, Imperium Renewables, Propel Biofuels, Standard Biodiesel, and Whole Energy.  This discussion will be a great opportunity to hear our local biodiesel industry address  Food vs. Fuel, Transportation Costs, Palm Oil, GMO Soy and other topics.  All we read is the negative.  Come get the real, inside scoop on sustainability in this exciting industry!  There will be plenty of time for Q&A.  7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Seattle Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle WA 98103. Cost is Free.  Information at

Propel President Rob Elam to Speak at MIT Enterprise Forum Oct 17th

Surfing the Perfect Storm: Opportunities and Challenges in the Emerging Biofuels Industry
Location : Hyatt Regency Bellevue Hotel
900 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA
Date & Time : October 17, 2007 – 5:00pm – 8:30pm

This Dinner Program Is Exclusively Sponsored by

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Surfing the Perfect Storm

Opportunities and Challenges in the Emerging Biofuels Industry

Join the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest as we take an inside look at the emerging biofuels industry.

The perfect storm in the trillion $ petrofuels energy world–with issues of energy security, peak oil and global warming all converging–has created remarkable opportunities for the emergence of a major new industry: biofuels.

Tremendous amounts of capital have already been invested in the biofuel industry in the last 18 months, in spite of uncertain economics and rapidly evolving regulation. Much of the activity is occurring in Seattle.

On Wednesday October 17, 2007, join Seattle-based moderator Ross Reynolds of KUOW to learn more about what is enticing local entrepreneurs into a sector that includes bio-feedstocks, processing plant technology, new distribution chains and more.

Panelists for the program will include:

§ Rob Elam, President of Propel Biofuels

§ Tomas Endicott, Chairman of Sequential Biofuels

§ Nancy Floyd, Founder, Nth Power Venture Capital

§ Dan Parker, CEO of Parker Messana

§ Michael Weaver, CEO of Bionavitas

Topics to be explored by Ross Reynolds and the panel include:

§ The current development status of the biofuels industry (an overview of terms and topics will be provided for those new to this industry)

§ Why companies around the world are investing in a space that is yet to be proved profitable, and what they see down the ‘2nd Generation’ road

§ Which companies and which strategies are likely to prosper

§ Why local entrepreneurs and professionals from other industries are jumping into biofuels

§ What will happen to our baby biofuels companies if the petrofuels ‘elephant’ rolls over on them

Mark your calendars for this provocative dinner event.

Cummins Extends Biodiesel Warranty

Cummins Inc. today announced the approval of biodiesel B20 blends for use in its 2002 and later emissions-compliant ISX, ISM, ISL, ISC and ISB engines. This includes the recently released 2007 products.

Cummins is able to upgrade its previous position on the use of biodiesel fuel, which limited the use to B5 blends only, up to B20 for three key reasons. First, the American Society of Testing Materials specification ASTM D6751 now includes an important stability specification for B100 biodiesel. Second, the availability of quality fuels from BQ-9000 Certified Marketers and Accredited Producers is growing rapidly; and third, Cummins has completed the necessary testing and evaluations to ensure that customers can reliably operate their equipment with confidence using B20 fuel.

Prediction: The Great Biodiesel Surplus of 2007


propel biodiesel

The speculative money pumped into biodiesel production start-ups is about to reach it’s expected outcome: a very oversupplied domestic market. In fact, this market condition already exists, with much domestic biodiesel production heading to Europe in late 06.

One industry insider, who prefers to remain anonymous,  predicts…

“Total U.S. biodiesel capacity will be at less than 50% utilization in 2007, which will effect planned delays in several new plant construction projects as well as some complete plant shutdowns; marketers and retailers will benefit from good pricing.”

Some 80% of on-road diesel is sold at public fueling locations. So will Big Oil help make biodiesel available? American Petroleum Institute President Red Cavaney, in an exclusive interview with EnergyWashington senior editor Peter Rohde, says…

“You have got to remember, when you get down to retail only 5 percent of the retail stations are owned by the oil companies or the refiners. The rest of them are owned by individual businessmen or women. Some of them are jobbers, but a lot of them are just independents. Those are the ones that make those decisions. So they have got to see in their community enough demand to make them feel comfortable, and the government is going to give them credit so they can factor that in and all, and I am sure to a degree that will help a lot of people in their decision, but at the end of the day it is individual business men and women that are going to make these decisions. So the oil company is not going to decide this.”

So all the biodiesel demand side pull will come from mandated RFS laws? Or will a true, ground up market develop? Of course, this could all change if crude reaches $85/bbl and stays there. But this doesn’t seem likely in the near term, given the market’s new-found ability to withstand the same events that shocked crude up $5 a day back in ’05 (like Nigerian oil worker kidnappings or threats of war against Iran).

We expect biodiesel wholesale prices to squeeze in 2007 and beyond. The producers with control over feedstocks will be in the best position to ride out the storm (Cargill, West-Central, etc).

What does this mean for biodiesel users? Frankly, don’t expect Big Oil to offer biodiesel at the pump anytime soon. They have nothing but upside should biodiesel producers fail. Like any true market, the answer will come from businesses serving a demand that really exists. Propel will continue to target biodiesel outlets at business and communities that are willing to pay for the benefits of biodiesel. In fact, they just may end up paying less in the end.

Cold Weather Biodiesel: Royal Turf Toe, Cloud Point and CFPP

Mike's Passat fueled by b100 at Mt Baker

Biodiesel innovation is occurring at blinding speed. The latest: Prince Charles has developed an insulating artificial turf, suitable for garage wallpapering, that will keep his B100 powered Range Rover and Jaguar above the dreaded Cold Filter Plug Point. Many of you northern climate types may be familiar with the plug-in engine block heater. That is history. The Moore’s Law of biodiesel cold flow properties has been defined, and it is astroturf.

Ok. In layman’s terms, what happens to high blend biodiesel at cold temperatures? B100 soy biodiesel begins causing problems at 30 degrees, +/- 5. At this temp biodiesel begins to form crystals in the tank. These crystals are too large to fit through the fuel filter. Eventually, they will clog the filter and stop the flow of fuel to the engine. The temperature at which this happens is called the Cold Filter Plug Point (or CFPP). When asking your biodiesel supplier about cold weather performance, ask for the CFPP test results. CFPP is a more appropriate metric than Cloud Point (CP) when considering biodiesel cold flow performance, because it is the true operating limit.  If you operate in temps below the advertised CFPP, you should consider a lower biodiesel blend level.

Do B100 additives help? Our research has shown that cold weather additives don’t have any affect on biodiesel above B60. Why? The additive is working on the diesel portion of the blend, but not the biodiesel. The most effective current additives remain petroleum based- petrodiesel (aka D2) or kerosene (aka D1). The chemists promise new and improved non-petro additives soon.

What to do if your vehicle stops? Warm it up. And don’t excessively crank the engine.

The National Biodiesel Board randomly tested biodiesel for quality this fall. The results were discouraging (.pdf). So remember these keys for winter biodiesel driving:
All biodiesel is not created equal. Buy from a reputable retailer or supplier.
Plan ahead! Blend with D1 or D2 as temps are forecasted to drop below 40.
If buying pre-blended fuel, ask your supplier about the blend stock, winter additives and CFPP rating.
Demand ASTM certified B100.

Buyer Beware: The Definition of Biodiesel

Senators Obama and Lugar have reintroduced the American Fuels Act of 2006. This is essentially a federal RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) that sets minimum consumption mandates to suport the biodiesel production industry. Read the bill here (new window). It will be interesting to watch this bill evolve as Big Oil attempts to broaden the definition of biofuels to include non-renewables and old petroleum technologies.


      • `(A) IN GENERAL- In this subsection, the term `alternative diesel fuel’ means biodiesel (as defined in section 312(f) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 13220(f))) and any blending components derived from alternative fuel (provided that only the alternative fuel portion of any such blending component shall be considered to be part of the applicable volume under the alternative diesel fuel program established by this subsection).

      • `(B) INCLUSIONS- The term `alternative diesel fuel’ includes a diesel fuel substitute produced from–

        • `(i) animal fat;

        • `(ii) vegetable oil;

        • `(iii) recycled yellow grease;

        • `(iv) thermal depolymerization;

        • `(v) thermochemical conversion;

        • `(vi) the coal-to-liquid process (including the Fischer-Tropsch process); or

    `                               (vii) a diesel-ethanol blend of not less than 7 percent ethanol.