ASTM Fuel Oil Standard Revised to Accommodate B6-B20 Blends

From OPIS:

ASTM International announced today new performance specifications for fuel oils(D396) that will accommodate blends of 6% to 20% biodiesel in conventional fuels.

The revised standard, to be known as D396-15a, will go into effect as soon as it is published, which ASTM said would be “soon.”

The blend is branded Bioheat (R) fuel. The fuel oils covered by D396 are used in home heating and hot water applications, as well as industrial boilers and burners.

The existing No. 1 and No. 2 grades in ASTM D396 already cover 5% biodiesel or less.

“The oilheat industry is reinventing itself as a 21st-Century fuel by moving to higher blends of low-carbon biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), in a statement provided by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). NBB and NORA have worked together on Bioheat (R) fuel certification, testing and user education.

The new B6-B20 grade is a blend of all the parameters contained in the existing No. 1 and No. 2 oilheat grades, but adds parameters for stability and allows a slightly higher distillation temperature for the blends. The changes are the same as those for B6-B20 in on-and-off-road diesel fuel passed by ASTM in 2008.

“The data set behind these changes is one of the most extensive I’ve seen in more than 20 years at ASTM,” said Steve Howell of M4 Consulting, an ASTM Fellow who chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. “Having an official standard for higher biodiesel blends in heating oil will help foster consumer confidence, and give blenders and distributors a needed tool to incorporate more low carbon, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel into heating oil.”

Research will continue to support official specifications for higher- concentration blends of biodiesel in heating oil, all the way to B100, according to NBB.

“Brookhaven National Laboratory surveys of customers already using biodiesel blends not only showed similar or better experience than with traditional fuel oil, they also showed many already use B20 or higher blends with great success,”
Howell said.

The official vote to change the standard took place at the December 2014 ASTM meeting.

–Kevin Adler, OPIS  (




Biodiesel Tax Credit for 2015?

I just received a letter in the mail today from Senator Richard Burr regarding a letter I sent him about the biodiesel tax credit some months ago.  In it, I stated that the biodiesel tax credit is actually HARMFUL the way it is being currently implemented.  That is, letting it lapse for a whole year and then reinstating it retroactively, as Congress has now done three times.

He agreed that Congress should provide businesses more certainty than the current year-to-year extensions we are currently experiencing, but claimed that attempts at longer extensions (like the 3 to 5 year tax credit I proposed) were thwarted by a veto threat from the President.

This is confusing for us in the biodiesel industry, as the President has promised that the renewable energy sector has his full support.   That, however, does not appear to be the case.  Especially in light of the political games being played with the EPA and the RFS program, which are under the control of the President.

So, at best we can appear to hope for yet again another kicking of the can down the road, and another 1 year biodiesel tax credit for 2015.  Hopefully before we see January of 2016…

You can view the Senator Burr Letter here


RFS for Biodiesel Isn’t the Same RFS for Ethanol

This past week the presidential hopefuls for 2016 attended the Iowa Ag Summit, which for all practical purposes served as a test run for the Iowa caucus hopefuls.  Of particular concern for all the candidates was how they were going to position themselves with respect to the RFS program.  Iowa is big on corn.  Corn means ethanol, and that means jobs for Iowans.

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a controversial program where the government has mandated that all petroleum motor fuels must have a certain amount of renewable fuel added to them in order to reduce harmful combustion emissions (so as to reduce greenhouse gases).   This is why you see the “This product contains up to 10% Ethanol” at the gas pump.

The government is essentially forcing the private industry (Oil and Gas) to purchase a product that under certain circumstances it would not purchase.  Ethanol by far makes up the bulk of the sales under the RFS program.  The program has increased the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.   Most of this will be ethanol.

From the US EPA’s RFS site, here is the 2014 data, showing the number of RINs (Rewewable Identification Number) generated by each fuel class industry.  Biodiesel, the stuff we make at TBI, is listed under D4.  Ethanol would be under D3 and D6.

Fuel (D Code) Domestic Importer Foreign Generation
Cellulosic Biofuel (D3) 33,360,560 0 0
Biomass-Based Diesel (D4) 2,212,736,209 203,958,762 291,970,178
Advanced Biofuel (D5) 78,838,620 64,474,655 0
Renewable Fuel (D6) 14,009,755,793 79,009,021 257,366,277
Cellulosic Diesel (D7) 8,859 50,446 0

Biodiesel has long been the red-headed stepchild that just “tags along” under Ethanol in the RFS program.  Indeed, when the RFS program was first implemented, it was confusing for biodiesel producers to even comply with it because the program was so blatantly skewed towards ethanol.   But as you can see, Ethanol produced roughly 14 Billion RINs for 2014, with biodiesel trailing with a paltry 2.2 Billion domestically produced RINs.  Thus, naturally, the biodiesel faction really doesn’t have much influence into the RFS program, and we just go along with whatever big Ethanol can lobby and push to put in place.

The main issue I have as a biodiesel producer is I don’t think biodiesel needs the RFS.  As far as I can tell, it has not helped my industry.  In fact, in the past some unsavory types have fraudulently fabricated RFS data that put a black eye on my industry.   Instead we have layer upon layer of regulation, which encumbers business operations for small companies, and puts us at the mercy of political jockeying like we have seen in 2014 and 2015.

The EPA STILL hasn’t released the mandate requirements for RFS for 2014 and 2015.  This is supposed to be done in June of the year prior to the mandate year, meaning in 3 months, we should be receiving the mandate requirements for the 2016 production year.   This hasn’t happened, and it has created uncertainty and trepidity in our market.   That means depressed prices, depressed orders, and depressed revenues for producers.

The ethanol producers are big names you know well.  They have deep pockets, and can afford very powerful lobbyists and PACs in Washington DC to further their interests.   There are roughly 160 biodiesel plants in the US, most of which are 10 Million Gallons per Year (MGY) production, or less.

The shame of all of this is that biodiesel is a great renewable fuel.  It’s a drop in replacement for diesel, could be a stand alone fuel all by itself if the market were allowed to grow naturally.  (Ethanol is never sold “neat”, because of BATF regulations around ethanol and it’s low temperature ignition problems.  It is always blended with gasoline in some ratio.)

Further, there is no “Blend Wall” with biodiesel, you can blend it as high as you like as long as your engine is rated for it.  We regularly burn straight biodiesel in our cars and trucks without incident.

Biodiesel is here now.  No engine modifications needed, no refueling infrastructure changes needed, and by far, comparably less concerns or restrictions on usability or compatibility with modern vehicles on or off the road today.   The customers that use our fuel love it, and like the fact that we are recycling used cooking oil into a renewable fuel that is domestically produced here in the USA.  That, by itself, should be enough for biodiesel to stand on its own.

It may be wishful thinking, and maybe even a little naive, but I’d like to see biodiesel de-coupled from ethanol.  Ethanol is giving us a bad name (I still have people ask me if we make biodiesel out of corn…), and we really need to  be out in front of this problem and explaining the benefits of biodiesel instead of relying on Ethanol and the EPA to sort out our problems for us.


M35A2 4X4 Biodiesel Truck

M35A2 2½-Ton Truck for Sale – Includes Biodiesel of course! $9900.00

It’s time for us to part with our 1971 Kaiser M35A2 bobbed 2½-ton truck.   Rebuilt in 2007, this is a “Deuce and a Half” Hard Top that has been bobbed to a 4X4 with the larger A3 style tires.  It is painted in Desert Tan and includes Power Steering!!

The engine is a NEW multi-fuel inline 6-cylinder Hercules motor with turbocharger (non-whistler) that will run on biodiesel, diesel, gasoline, motor oil, kerosene, or transmission fluid.   Of course we have run it on biodiesel for a while, currently it is running B20 biodiesel.

This truck has been professionally chopped and bobbed removing the rear axle and making it a 4X4, air shifted front axle. It has been completely repainted and re-upholstered. The tires have been upgraded to 46″ Michelins and the wheels to 20″ dual beadlock combat wheels. New batteries installed. The 9½ft bed has a new bed liner. Odometer shows original miles, not miles on engine!

Air windshield wipers work. Black out lights installed. An air chuck has been installed to the rear bumper for filling tires, running air tools, or just filling air in rafts or sports toys. Two speed transfer case. No rust. This vehicle has a clean North Carolina title and is street legal. You do not need a CDL to drive it. Hard top installed to keep wind and rain out, and helps reduce noise.  Drive this thing anywhere.

Original cost was over $13,000.00.  Price is $9,900.00 (negotiable), and includes a full tank of B20 biodiesel fuel.   Buyer must arrange any shipping and pay all shipping costs. Vehicle is in excellent working condition but is sold AS-IS.  Why are we selling it?  Because it just sits in the parking lot, and that is a crying shame.  Get this truck and have fun with it!

You can view a video of this great running truck here.

Driving in snowstorm

Biodiesel in Winter Time

Most everyone knows that biodiesel in the winter time can have problems with gelling if used straight or in high biodiesel blends without anti-gel additives.   Here at TBI, we use biodiesel in our trucks and cars all year around, and generally don’t blend it with diesel fuel unless we are forced to because of mid-trip refuels or extremely low temperatures.    Diesel fuel can gel also, albeit usually at lower temperatures than biodiesel.  The feedstock, or type of vegetable oil used in production greatly affects the winter performance of biodiesel.  The less saturated the fat, the better the performance in winter time.  Canola oil works very well for low temperature biodiesel, and palm oil is among the worst for cold weather performance.



With North Carolina in the 20’s and 30’s for a few weeks and snow on the ground today, I thought it would be good to repost some information about biodiesel and gelling in the winter time.  There are two main measures of the potential for gelling when buying biodiesel, “cloud point” and “cold filter plug point”.

  1. The cloud point is the point at which the fuel will begin to form wax like crystals in the fuel which make the fuel appear cloudy, hence the name.  These wax like crystals are of course solids, and will cause filters to plug.   Long chain methyl esters, especially saturated ones like Palm Oil Biodiesel (PME), can solidify as the fuel temperatures drops. These can plug filters and cause engines to not start or stall shortly after start-up.
  2. The cold filter plug point is the temperature in which the fuel will no longer flow and will cause filter clogging.  Generally, the vehicle will have combustion issues before this temperature is reached, but certainly once it is reached, fuel will no longer reach the engine, and it will starve for fuel.

Other things that can also cause winter fuel performance issues are sediment and trash in the fuel, which can exacerbate and raise the cloud point temperature, due to the way the wax crystals form, as the sediment or trash particles in the fuel form a great nuclei for the wax crystals to form.  This means clean fuel is very important, especially in the winter time.   High moisture in biodiesel can also cause freezing or ice crystal problems in the fuel which can affect cold flow performance.

B100 Antigel Cold - Start of test

B100 treated with different anti-gel additives at the start of the test. Low was 14F.

B100 Antigel Colder

B100 treated with different anti-gel additives at the end of the test. Low was 14F.

Treatment Options

The two main ways that biodiesel is usually treated for winter time use is by adding anti-gel additives or blending with petroleum diesel (either #2 Diesel or #1 Diesel).  Commercial anti-gel additives can help winter fuel performance by modifying the wax crystal structure during crystal formation when cooling occurs in the fuel (this is true for diesel or biodiesel).

For biodiesel, simply adding a commercially available anti-gel additive for regular #2 diesel fuel should be fine.  Any truck stop or auto supply store will have several brands to choose from.  As long as it’s made for diesel fuel (and NOT gasoline), you will be okay.  However, some work better than others for biodiesel.  We’ve done some extensive testing with anti-gel additives and chose the best one for our commercial application to all our winter fuel blends.   Experiment and see which additive works best for your biodiesel fuel or biodiesel blend.   It is important to add the anti-gel before waxing occurs, as it will not perform as well afterwards.  So, add the anti-gel at the first sign of cold weather.

Biodiesel blends with #2 diesel as high as B80 (80% Biodiesel to 20% #2 Diesel) work well in North Carolina for vehicles that can operate on high biodiesel blends.  It helps to have a heated fuel filter as well, but it’s not always necessary.  Additionally, these fuels are usually treated with anti-gel additives too.   Colder temperatures in northern states might naturally require higher blends of diesel.  B20 is a common blend that seems to show few problems with cold weather in all but the coldest states.  Minnesota has done extensive testing in severe cold weather operations with B2 blends.

#1 Diesel, or Kerosene, has excellent cold flow properties and is quite often blended with #2 Diesel in the winter months to meet cold flow specifications, thus improving cold weather engine operability. Cloud and pour points, and CFPPs of some #1 Diesel fuels can be well below -30º F.   So adding #1 Diesel to B99 biodiesel can also have the same effect, lowering the cloud and pour points simply by blending fuels.

By using anti-gel additives and/or diesel fuel blends, you can continue to run biodiesel in your car or truck all winter long without fear of being stalled on the side of the road due to cold flow performance problems.  As always, be sure your fuel source is reliable and registered, so you know you are getting a good product.

A diesel fire tube boiler capable of running biodiesel

Using Biodiesel for Boiler Fuel To Lower Emissions

Are you trying to lower your sulfur or volatile emissions from your diesel fired boiler?   By adding biodiesel to your boiler fuel mixture you can realize some significant reductions in Sulfur, CO2, NOx, and other harmful particulate matter emissions from your stack.    Biodiesel has virtually no sulfur, so blending it with diesel fuel can help lower your emissions, as well as helping your boiler to burn more efficiently, and possibly reducing operating costs as well.  Biodiesel burns up to 80% cleaner than diesel fuel.

Air Pollution from boiler smoke stack

Emissions testings have shown that the use of B20 biodiesel in a boiler can reduce particulate matter emissions by as much as 20%, and can decrease NOx emissions by up to 20%. Blends with higher biodiesel content can provide greater particulate matter reductions. For example, the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has studied the use of bioheat blends in oil-fired heating systems for several years. BNL is the national leader in the United States for testing of fuels and heating equipment for the oilheat industry.  One focus of the research at BNL has been to determine if bioheat blends could be substituted for conventional heating oil without modification or adjustment to existing oil-fired heating systems.

We can offer biodiesel and biodiesel blends cheaper than #2 petroleum diesel fuel.

Triangle Biofuels has been using biodiesel for boiler fuel since the beginning of 2009, using pure biodiesel in warmer months, and sometimes using a biodiesel blend in winter months.  For new customers, we recommend starting out with a lower blend such as B5 (5% biodiesel to 95% petroleum diesel fuel).   Biodiesel will slowly clean your fuel tanks, fuel lines, and nozzles.  Using higher blends can cause problems initially as years of gunk can clog your lines or nozzles, or cause inefficient spray patterns.  Start slow and work up to higher blends over a few weeks or months.   Otherwise, there are no significant changes or modifications to observe for using biodiesel blends in your boiler.  Biodiesel works well in residential as well as large scale commercial boilers.

Because biodiesel has a higher flash point than #2 diesel fuel, a pre-heater is recommended, but not absolutely necessary.  Our first boiler was a Columba WL-60 which worked well without a pre-heater on B100.  Contact us and ask about using biodiesel or a biodiesel blend in your diesel fired boiler.

Biodiesel Pump with Fuel Spilling out

5 Things to Know About Biodiesel

Biodiesel is not Vegetable Oil

This may be the most common mistake I still hear after 10 years making biodiesel from vegetable oil using transesterification.  Transesterification is the fancy name for the chemical process used to chemically break a triglyceride molecule down and turn it into a methyl-ester (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerol.   In 2015, I still have conversations where someone tells me they used to “make biodiesel” by mixing used cooking oil and gasoline and pouring it in their diesel truck.  Not only is that concoction NOT biodiesel, it’s not good for your engine, or even your fuel tank.  It WILL ruin your car or truck.  Don’t do it.

Biodiesel is Not Made from Corn

Nope, it’s not.  That’s Ethanol.  Unless you mean corn oil, but even that isn’t used very much in the biodiesel industry.  Ethanol is usually made from starches or sugar, which are broken down with enzymes, yeast, and fermentation into ethyl alcohol.  Biodiesel is ALWAYS made from fats, any fat, but not from sugar or starches like corn.   Common oils used commercially for producing biodiesel are soybean, canola, palm, jatropha, and used cooking oil.

Biodiesel Will Not Ruin Your Engine

Really, it won’t.  Well, maybe, it depends…  It got more complicated around 2009 with the EPA’s ruling to require engine manufacturers to use mechanical and urea based systems to reduce harmful emissions in diesel engines.   These changes, specifically DPF (diesel particulate filters) and urea additive systems can cause compatibility problems with high concentrations of biodiesel (above B20).   All diesel cars and trucks can at least handle blends of 5% biodiesel (B5) or less.   Most cars and trucks before 2007 are usually fine for blends up to B100, but after that you should check with your manufacturer to find out if your diesel car or truck can handle biodiesel blends above B5.

Biodiesel is Inexpensive

Biodiesel is usually cheaper than diesel fuel.   The government instituted a biodiesel tax credit for producers starting in 2004 to help make biodiesel more cost competitive with diesel fuel (which has subsidies already built in the tax code).   Because biodiesel is usually cheaper, and often because it is mandated for blending, petroleum companies regularly buy biodiesel in bulk for blending with regular diesel fuel in order to improve profits and take advantage of some of the beneficial properties of biodiesel in their fuel (like increased cetane and lubricity).  In fact, many times that diesel you are buying at the truck stop or convenience store is already a B5 or less blend, it just isn’t labeled as such.

You Don’t Have To Commit

Biodiesel is a certified fuel by the EPA and the ASTM.  That means that when used properly, it is compatible with any modern engine that is on the road today.  It also means you can use B20 biodiesel this week, then next week fill up with regular diesel, and next month use B5 biodiesel, and so on.   You can be a dedicated biodiesel enthusiast, or you can be a philanderer and switch back and forth as often as you wish.  It’s your choice.  Your engine won’t care.  Really.

That’s five things.  Want to know more?  Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or Why Biodiesel pages

Senate Urges EPA to Set RFS Volumes

32 Senators Sent a Letter to EPA on Biodiesel Volumes: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led a letter sent Monday urging EPA to quickly approve strong biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Yes, you read that right.  The US EPA still hasn’t set the volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard for last year.  Last year.

Pointing to an industry survey, lawmakers said that nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers had scaled back production last year, and that about 60 percent quit production altogether.

Additionally, about 66 percent of biodiesel producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce.

The EPA has said it expects to set the standards for 2014 and 2015 some time this year.

The senators wrote that the EPA delays in implementing the RFS have created “tremendous uncertainty and hardship for the U.S. biodiesel industry and its thousands of employees. Plants have reduced production and some have been forced to shut down, resulting in layoffs and lost economic productivity … We urge you to get biodiesel back on schedule under the statutorily prescribed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) process and quickly issue volumes for 2014 at the actual 2014 production numbers. We also hope you move forward on the 2015 and 2016 biodiesel volumes in a timely manner.”

Back In Production

TBI was idle for 2 months at the end of 2014 due to lack of the biodiesel tax credit and a lack of guidance from the EPA on the RFS volumes for biodiesel.  With the tax credit retroactively renewed for 2014, we are back in production for 2015.

We are once again producing SME and FAME biodiesel for bulk blenders, fleets, and retail sales in blends of B99 or B20.  Other custom blends are available upon request.

We thank you for your continued support of Triangle Biofuels and look forward to a productive year in 2015.


TBI Biodiesel Glycerin Separator

New Upgraded Glycerin Separator Installed

We installed our new laminar flow glycerin separator this week.  The new unit is capable of handling 30 gallons per minute.   We’ve added our own automation panel to handle the input, output, and glycerin discharge pumps, as well as level and temperature indicators that give us an idea of how the unit is working.  The new unit not only works at a higher flow rate, it also appears to get more glycerin out of the output stream than our old unit.

Preliminary tests look good, and we are excited to see it replacing our older 10 GPM Hydrasep separator.  That unit is for sale, by the way, and works well.  We’ve just outgrown it.