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Technical
Project Showcase ::

Technical Program

2013 was a banner year for the NBB Technical Program as it executed the activities members felt were most important to increasing commercial sales of biodiesel over the short and long term. The strong technical foundation built by the biodiesel industry has been vitally important with continual record production volumes, growth of the federal RFS, state legislation and incentives, OEM acceptance, and other industry achievements. This success however, has brought on new technical challenges for 2013 and beyond that the industry is addressing head on. Continuous collaboration with technical experts from within the biodiesel sector, petroleum sector, and the OEM community has the NBB Technical Program well positioned to address these new challenges before they become major barriers or obstacles to higher sales.  

Significant efforts occurred in most of the high priority technical areas in FY13. Some of the highlights are found below, as well as in other sections of this annual report.

The technical program continued work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the OEM Steering committee to evaluate the impact of biodiesel metals on PM trap and SCR system catalysts. This work is key to convincing some OEM’s to move from B5 to B20, and to maintain B20 support where it already exists. Work this year showed the metals specifications were acceptable for light duty operation (150,000 mile useful life) and pointed out that certain acceleration protocols in last year’s testing were actually causing some adverse results for heavy duty engines (435,000 mile useful life). Protocols were modified to address the issues observed, and testing has begun with heavy duty engines. Tests will verify the existing metals specifications are acceptable for the full useful life or indicate if they need to be adjusted to a lower level.

Efforts also continued in FY13 to address questions and issues in markets where biodiesel blends are not yet common.

  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has agreed to ballot a B5/B7 grade into the ISO 8217 Marine Fuel specification. This is a significant change as the present ISO 8217 allows a maximum of only 0.1 percent biodiesel.
  • Recent data provided by NREL on long term stability indicates it is possible for biodiesel blends to be stored for as long as three years while still maintaining ASTM specification properties and that it is possible to use additional stability additives to enhance storage life of a biodiesel blend even further.
  • Significant efforts also occurred with the Locomotive Maintenance Officers Association, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Society of Automotive Engineers that will set the stage for potential OEM support for blends higher than B5 in railroad applications. 

The NBB’s “Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians” training curriculum—which received accreditation under the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Continuing Automotive Service Excellence (CASE) program last year—continues to reach more programs and technicians every year. Trainings this year were funded by the United Soybean Board, state soybean associations, and the DOE Clean Cities program. They were held in New York, Rhode Island, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Additional trainings are planned for Pennsylvania, California, Washington State, Texas, Main, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Massachusetts. Over 2,200 diesel technicians have been trained under this program to date. 

The Bioheat Technical Steering Committee was successful in moving the needle to higher Bioheat blends. Pump stand testing indicated B20 blends are compatible with current elastomers and pumps in existing heating oil systems and may actually leak less than ULSD heating oil, likely due to the higher lubricity of B20 versus ULSD heating oil alone. 

Efforts to facilitate shipments of biodiesel blends on US multi-product pipelines resulted in new partnerships and opportunities. Activity has focused on the approval of 100 ppm biodiesel in jet fuel so that biodiesel can be shipped on pipelines that also carry jet fuel.

Bioheat & Petroleum Outreach

For over a decade establishing alliances within the petroleum industry has been a top priority for the National Biodiesel Board. Creating partnerships throughout its diverse segments has been achieved through development and deployment of a variety of well thought-out educational strategies. The NBB supply chain management group delivered educational materials and training to ensure biodiesel is both understood and accepted as a safe and reliable blend stock designed to help improve the characteristics of all fuel it is blended with.

Key highlights of 2013 included participation at a joint annual conference hosted by the Petroleum Marketers Association of America and National Association of Convenience Stores, American Fats & Oils Conference as well, the International Liquid Terminals Association. At each of these events, our team had the opportunity to gain insight on the challenges each of these groups were grappling with and to share real time updates on relevant biodiesel industry issues that would ultimately impact their businesses.  

Two invaluable communication resources were developed this year and are now available to petroleum leaders and those that they serve. A new and improved Ask Ben newsletter designed for electronic distribution to over 3,000 recipients quarterly is packed with information covering technical, legislative, feedstock updates and more. The biodiesel e2e online information portal is a one-stop online tool to access everything a petroleum organization needs to know about biodiesel handling and distribution. The engaging and interactive interface makes it easy to find the information needed, and breaks it down into simple technical language for all levels of the distribution chain. The digital interface maps out the typical ports, terminals and depots associated with biodiesel. Each hotspot leads you into informative and engaging content including videos and online presentations.

Bioheat® market development efforts continued to flourish in 2013 through the deployment of two pathways designed to educate fuel dealers and their customers. Through a combination of webinars, field visits, and personal company consulting tours, the Bioheat Training Team encountered more than 600 fuel dealers during the course of the year where they became proficient in mastering the content contained within the Bioheat Playbook training guide developed the prior year.  

The Bioheat consumer advertising campaign consisted of three distinct elements. A high impact television campaign was deployed across New York, New Jersey, and New England. A four minute video spot was created by CBS featuring interviews with biodiesel and oilheat industry executives. It aired on local television’s “What’s In Store” show and was uploaded on dealer’s websites. Digital media buys complimented the television commercials helping increase the consumer traffic to bioheatonline.com. The final element was called New York City, Proud 2B2. The objective was to help NYC’s needy rebuild their community, increase awareness of Bioheat, and to drive traffic to bioheatoline.com through a donation campaign. The third element helped increase awareness to motivate other political community leaders to follow the city’s example embracing a 2 percent biodiesel blend in the city’s heating oil. The combination of television, digital media, and this unique promotion made this year’s consumer advertising investment a huge success.

OEM Outreach & Education

2013 was dubbed by the Diesel Technology Forum as “one of the most exciting years for clean diesel vehicles in U.S. history.” And true to its promise, the year ushered in the introduction of over 36 new light duty diesel vehicle models, along with a continued strong showing for new technology diesel engines in the medium and heavy-duty truck sector. Currently, diesel auto and light duty truck sales account for slightly more than three percent of the U.S. vehicle market, but many analysts predict that diesel market share will climb to as much as 10 percent by 2020, with an unprecedented 54 diesel vehicle models expected to be available in the U.S. by 2017 under the current cycle plan.

The goal of NBB’s OEM Outreach and Education Program is to secure acceptance for the use of B20 biodiesel blends from 90 percent of the Original Equipment Manufacturers selling diesel vehicles in the U.S. by 2015. The OEM Outreach team again made strong strides in that direction this year, as four OEM brands made a significant market impact by launching their all-new light-duty diesel vehicles approved for B20 – namely the game-changing Chevy Cruze diesel sedan, the Ram 1500 pickup and Ram ProMaster van, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, and the Ford Transit commercial van. In addition, all previous B20 supporters maintained their support for the higher biodiesel blend in their 2013-2014 models as well.

Now nearly 80 percent of the OEMs selling diesel vehicles and equipment in the U.S. support B20 or higher blends in at least some of their equipment, with the balance currently approved for use with B5.

NBB’s Technical and OEM Outreach teams worked in close partnership with the OEMs throughout FY13 to bring them to this point. Over the course of the year, the team conducted a total of 88 technical briefing meetings with 46 different OEMs and 10 key automotive trade associations. These efforts will continue in earnest in FY14 as we work with the few remaining light and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers who have yet to support B20 to help resolve any remaining questions or concerns they may have.