In 2012, the NBB Technical Program continued to execute the activities that biodiesel producers and NBB members felt would be most useful to increasing the commercial sales of biodiesel in the US, both short term and long term. NBB utilizes constant input from NBB producer members, the NBB Technical Committee, and industry steering committees to guide all of the NBB technical projects.
The NBB Technical Program continues to be cited by OEM’s and the petroleum industry as the ‘right way’ to develop a new fuel, which is a real competitive advantage for the biodiesel industry as other new renewable fuels attempt to enter the market.
The biodiesel industry has been blessed by rock solid support of the NBB Technical Program by outside funders, and NBB members derive significant benefits from the funding they provide.
The Top Technical priorities for 2012 were identified in the annual Biodiesel Technical Workshop and then vetted through the development of the NBB Program Plan.
Significant accomplishments occurred in 2012 high priority areas thanks to the outside funding secured. Efforts will continue in most areas for 2013. Highlights of some of the accomplishments in 2012 are below.
- In early FY 2012, the NBB’s Biodiesel for Diesel Technicians training curriculum received accreditation under the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Continuing Automotive Service Excellence (CASE) program. This major milestone in the project builds on the highly technically credible nature of the curriculum materials. The purpose of this program is to provide technically credible information on biodiesel and biodiesel blends to current and future diesel technicians. NBB has taken a proactive approach to reaching out and training technicians. Training under this curriculum has occurred under two avenues: national technical colleges and in-state community college programs and is based on the successful implementation of a similar program in Iowa by the Iowa Biodiesel Board. In FY 2012, the in-state programs have been expanded to Illinois and Indiana. The platforms for trainings to begin next year in Kentucky are well underway. In total more than 1,800 diesel instructors, students, and service technicians have been educated to date.
- NBB continued its strong technical presence working with both the Locomotive Maintenance Officers Association (LMOA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers Technical Committee 7 (SAE TC7) on biodiesel in railroad applications during FY 2012. During the annual meeting of the LMOA, two biodiesel presentations were given; one titled “Biodiesel Background for the Railroad Sector” and the other titled “Locomotive Durability Test Protocol for Biodiesel.” This is the first time that a biodiesel durability protocol had been developed for the Rail sector. The Federal Railway Administration (FRA) has funding available for biodiesel durability studies and the development of this protocol by the NBB and contractors was imperative for next year’s program.
- 2012 saw the final passage of the No. 1-B grade of biodiesel into ASTM D6751, with tighter controls on monoglycerides (0.4 mass % maximum) and a year-round cold soak value of 200 seconds maximum. The No. 1-B grade was designed by the members of ASTM to help alleviate the relatively rare instances where filter clogging above the cloud point of the blend occurred. We are also in the process of executing a highly detailed and comprehensive research project to better understand solids formation above the cloud point that will serve to confirm the No. 1-B specifications or develop additional recommendations. This design of experiments was developed with input from NBB producer members and input from the petroleum sector. In this study biodiesel and petroleum diesel samples with various properties are being blended and cold flow measurements are conducted. Data from this research will enable a way to better predict when cold flow issues may arise prior to blending. Results of this research are expected during the first part of FY 2013.
- Last years accelerated testing with light vehicles (full useful life approximately 150,000 miles) with metals at the upper end of the specification limit showed promising results indicating the current specifications for B100 metals are sufficient for B20 full useful life in light duty vehicles. Additional testing was funded and executed in 2012 for testing with heavy duty vehicles (435,000 miles), as the preliminary results showed some potential issues. Since the OEM steering committee was unsure if the potential issues were real or actually caused by the acceleration used to simulate 435,000 miles, the additional testing occurred in 2012 to better understand the phenomenon.
Results are just now becoming available, and additional work will occur in 2013 to determine if a specification change to lower metals is need for heavy duty vehicles. This type of work is extremely expensive with one 1,000 hour durability test costing approximately $500,000. NBB is fortunate for the outside funding received for this type of testing—almost entirely from soybean farmers through the soybean check-off program. This type of work is critical, as it is necessary to maintain the confidence in biodiesel with the OEM community and regulators that has been built over the last 20 years. The fact the biodiesel industry is willing to put their money where their mouth is on technical issues continues to be a significant competitive advantage for biodiesel.
- Testing efforts needed to approve the allowance of 100 ppm biodiesel in jet fuel were completed this year. Pipeline companies, through the NBB Pipeliner Biodiesel Steering Committee, have identified the need for allowance of higher levels of biodiesel in jet fuel as the number one barrier to increased shipments of B5 in pipelines that also carry jet fuel. Several pipelines this year announced commercial shipments of biodiesel blends on US pipelines that do not carry jet fuel , which comprise somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of the pipeline system in the US, depending on the company. However, the current 5 ppm limit for biodiesel in jet fuel is problematic to insure levels that low with the highly flexible, fungible, and efficient US pipeline system.
Almost all of the $2 million in testing done for this large, multi-industry, cooperative project that included many funders outside of the biodiesel industry was positive, including a 750,000 gallon durability run in an actual aircraft engine by General Electric in Ohio. However, one thermal stability simulation tester by Rolls Royce aircraft showed some anomalous results, and the test is currently being re-run on a similar tester by the US Air Force. These results should become available over the next several months and we are hopeful they will be positive.
- The NBB worked very closely with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) on third party testing and evaluation of fuel dispensing infrastructure during FY 2012. In the absence of third party evaluations, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) can shutdown fuel dispensing equipment. NBB identified this lack of approvals as a potential barrier for increased biodiesel sales and took action. During FY 2012 a wide variety of fueling infrastructure components from various manufacturers were tested at UL. These components included nozzles, shear valves, hoses, swivels, breakaways, and complete dispensers. After rigorous conditioning and testing, these components passed with flying colors and are currently being listed at UL for B20 approval.
Bioheat & Petroleum Outreach
Regardless of the peripheral noise challenging the industry 2012 was busy with far-reaching efforts devoted to petroleum education and outreach.
Relying on industry feedback, a comprehensive educational campaign was developed and executed focusing on RFS-2 training, infrastructure development strategies, sales and marketing programs, and a comprehensive Bioheat consumer advertising campaign focused in New York and Massachusetts, touting the theme “Oil Heat Users, Join the Evolution, Bioheat®”.
Terminal education concentrated on training webinars specific to RFS-2 matters, field visits to help guide operators on best practices associated with storing, blending, and distributing biodiesel, as well as administration of inquires submitted to “Ask Ben”, (Biodiesel Educational Network) where online questions from across the nation were promptly responded to.
A variety of RFS training modules were presented this year including at the International Liquid Terminal Association Conference held in Houston, Texas where an international audience converged to acquire 21st century operational strategies. Another public venue included a two day training symposium sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation to support petroleum organizations and the state’s fleet management teams as they entertained increasing the level of biodiesel used in the states fleet.
Petroleum education is far reaching and it requires attention be given to every link in the national supply chain. Participation at industry conferences, board meetings, tradeshows, distributor field visits, preparation of press releases, and development of relevant featured articles all contributed to a holistic approach to educate the industry. Each year an extensive planning process helps create and deliver a message that reinforces the need of an Advanced Biofuel and how this collaboration will help a carbon intensive industry achieve its long term goals. This year’s accomplishments also included a successful panel discussion at the National Biodiesel Board Conference where five prominent petroleum executives volunteered to share their experiences with biodiesel to an audience eager to hear what intrigued them to become involved and what their long term industry visions are.
On the Bioheat® fuel front three essential programs were developed and implemented. The first an executive outreach survey designed to solicit opinion from twenty-three oilheat industry leaders. The findings enabled our team to redefine the markets most receptive for continued support throughout 2013. The second program concentrated on service technicians. The team developed a technical education curriculum for technicians that taught them how to convey the technical benefits of Bioheat to their customers in plain English. This program helped reduce concerns shared by technicians and empowered them to become outstanding service ambassadors for their respective companies.
As reported in 2011 the Bioheat Consumer Advertising Campaign was super charged when commitments were made to advance the message about Bioheat directly to the consumer’s home. A sampling of highlights from the avalanche of achievements included execution of three Bioheat dealer training symposiums held at Citi-Field home of the New York Mets, Pennsylvania Bioheat Conference, Westin Convention Center, and Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, where dealers convened to take ownership of the Bioheat marketing storyline. Throughout the campaign dealer education was complimented by a blockbuster radio and outdoor communication campaign throughout New York City and Massachusetts. Reinforcing the external media blitz was execution of consumer focus groups designed to keep consumer messaging relevant and on track. Other support provided to fuel dealers to succeed with customers included the development, printing, and distribution of 1,300 Bioheat Playbooks brilliantly illustrated and packed with relevant knowledge about biodiesel education, Bioheat, sales, marketing, technical, and service features, recognized today as the “go to guide.”
To maintain a presence post campaign the team improved, bioheatline.com to ensure consumers and fuel dealers had a place to go to learn about biodiesel and Bioheat 24/7. The team also traveled to more than 20 fuel dealers throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic and trained over 600 individuals in person on best practices and “how to sell the fuel.” Five big rig truck wraps were designed and installed declaring that Bioheat was in fact the “Evolution of Oilheat”. Other tools developed were brochures, door hangers, postcards, magazine advertisements, and web banners.
OEM Outreach & Education
2012 proved to be another big year for biodiesel in a number of ways, but possibly one of the most exciting areas of growth was in the number of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) announcing their support for use of B20 in their vehicles and equipment. In 2012, ten more OEM brands were added to the list of manufacturers supporting B20 or higher blends in at least some of their equipment. With these new additions, now more than 79 percent of the overall U.S. diesel vehicle market supports B20 – a 19 percent increase over last year.
Great progress was made with the medium/heavy duty truck and bus manufacturers this year, as seven of the new B20 supporters came from that category: Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks, and the Daimler Trucks North America family of brands including Freightliner, Freightliner Custom Chassis, Detroit Diesel, Western Star, and Thomas Built Buses. With these new announcements, now more than 90 percent of the medium and heavy-duty truck markets support B20. The other three new B20+ supporters are in the off-road equipment category and include Buhler, Kubota, and Deutz, a German OEM that announced its support for the use of B100 in its Tier IIIb Agripower equipment.
To achieve this success, in 2012 the National Biodiesel Board’s OEM Outreach and Education Program conducted more than 50 biodiesel technical briefing meetings with 26 different OEMs, educating them on the latest biodiesel industry advancements and addressing their technical concerns. These ongoing educational efforts, along with growing biodiesel availability, robust fuel quality specifications and practices under the industry’s BQ-9000 program, and the OEMs’ own successful B20 research efforts, all led to this remarkable growth in market acceptance.
It is important to note that all major OEMs selling diesel equipment in the U.S. support at least B5 and lower blends, provided they are made with biodiesel meeting ASTM D6751 specifications. Most OEMs are also recommending use of a BQ-9000 supplier.
However, NBB’s OEM Outreach and Education team focused particular attention on those OEMs still remaining at only a B5 approval level, particularly in the light-duty vehicle sector, to better understand their perceived hurdles to B20 support. NBB’s Technical Director and OEM team continue to provide technical support and guidance to these manufacturers, and steady progress is being made. For a complete detailed listing of OEM position statements on biodiesel, as well as the current U.S. Diesel Vehicles List, visit: www.biodiesel.org/using-biodiesel/oem-information.
Other notable groups such as the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) reached out to the automotive industry with a similar goal outlined in a pointed letter in 2012. The MGA letter encouraged every diesel engine and vehicle manufacturer—and their respective suppliers—to support the use of biodiesel blends of at least 20 percent by volume in all diesel-powered equipment, as well as thanked those manufacturers who have already made great progress in this area.
Another important facet of the National Biodiesel Board’s OEM efforts is in the area of Dealer Education and Outreach. This year we took our OEM Dealer Education efforts on the road to “go where the dealers are”, providing comprehensive new Biodiesel Training Toolkits, training presentations and other resource materials to hundreds of dealers at major shows such as the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and American Truck Dealers (ATD) Conventions, the Mid-America Truck Show, the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo and the High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum. We also conducted customized regional dealer training events in Illinois, Michigan, and North Carolina. We rounded out those efforts with a series of eight Biodiesel Training Webinars for Dealers, with a curriculum featuring biodiesel use in light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles, biodiesel service and maintenance advice, and fleet experience with biodiesel.
While 2012 was certainly a banner year for B20 support among the automakers and equipment manufacturers, NBB’s OEM Outreach and Education Team looks forward to the continued challenge of getting every OEM on board with B20, all the while educating the continually-evolving OEM dealer networks to promote their products’ biodiesel capabilities with customers.