On the road again with Bio Willie

| July 02, 2006

Meanwhile, Willie Nelson isn’t shy about saying he’s high on biodiesel. His support completes the circle between independent farmers, truckers and the biodiesel industry. “I relate to truckers; they are a lot like musicians, on the road, away from home,” Nelson says. “And lots of truckers I know come from farm backgrounds or do a little farming of their own. They want to feel good about their fuel consumption. They care about American farmers, and they care about the environment.

“Fueling with biodiesel is a way they can do something about it.”


What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a clean-burning, renewable fuel that can be made from oil derived from soybeans or other agricultural products and blended with petroleum diesel or used alone. It’s made through a chemical process called transesterification, in which the glycerin is separated from the vegetable oil or fat. It can be formulated in any percentage.

BioWillie uses a B20 mixture of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel. Biodiesel has been used by more than 500 government and fleet owners such as the city of Dallas, the U.S. Military and NASA. It is available at more than 700 pumps nationwide with more opening all the time.


What the Engine Makers Say
Engine manufactures endorse the use of biodiesel fuel but also call for more stringent quality control. They advise you to monitor the condition of your hoses and seals. Some say their research shows a slightly reduced energy content.

While these are the official engine manufacturer positions, these recommendations doesn’t necessarily mean that a higher blend voids the warranty.

“The National Biodiesel Board is working closely with all the major OEMs to create more proactive positive statements on B20, and we are starting to see some success in that area,” says spokesperson Jenna Higgins.

Caterpillar
Allows biodiesel fuels meeting ASTM D6751 or EN 14214 and allows blending up to 30 percent (the highest of all engine makers).

Cummins
Approves the use of 5 percent biodiesel.

Detroit Diesel
Recommends fuels made from rapeseed, canola oil or soyboeans and says it may be blended up to 5 percent.

Volvo and Mack
Supports B2 and B5 blends.


You Decide
Pros

  • Sustainable and clean burning

  • Raises lubricity by 60 percent, good for new ultra-low-sulfur fuels, which reduce lubricity
  • Helps domestic farmers
  • Industry growth stimulated by tax credits on production and distribution plants
  • Reduces dependence on foreign fuels
  • Reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent
  • Possible increased fuel mileage
  • Competitive price at the pump

Cons

  • Limited availability

  • Inconsistent production
  • Possible gelling in cold weather with improper handling
  • Engine warranty issues
  • Without additives, increases oxides of nitrogen, NOx emissions

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