Equipment manufacturers, fleets highlight importance of biodiesel in future program plans
The National Biodiesel Board this week announced its transition to a new name, Clean Fuels Alliance America, reflecting the organization’s progressive vision and the diversity of clean fuels its members produce—including biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. An expert panel of diesel equipment manufacturers and fleets participating in a Vehicle Technology Showcase event at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo Jan. 18 acknowledged that these clean fuels are a key part of their current and future product development plans on the path to a low-carbon transportation future.
When considering options to help reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles and equipment, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and fleets across the country are looking beyond fossil fuels. They’re considering a variety of emissions reduction technologies such as biofuels, electric vehicles and other alternatives to help slow the progression of climate change. However, while electric solutions are still under development, clean advanced biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel are readily available now for use in existing diesel engines without modification, helping fleets achieve substantial emissions reductions today, and well into the future.
Speaking on the Vehicle Technology Showcase panel, James Hopkins, executive director of engine business strategy for Cummins Inc., said, “Increasing the utilization of low-carbon fuels, including biodiesel, can make a meaningful impact in reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles already in use. Cummins is committed to supporting the use of biodiesel, and it is an important part of our plans to reduce CO2 in commercial vehicle markets. In fact, almost all our products are able to use B20 biodiesel blends today, and we are working to support increasing blends in the future.”
Danan Dou, manager of advanced technology and innovation for John Deere, said, “As John Deere works to help farmers address the rising demand for farm productivity to feed and fuel the world, there is no doubt that advances in technology will continue to play an important and necessary role. We are committed to innovation for a sustainable future, and we consider low-carbon fuels such as biodiesel an important avenue to reduce CO2 while also maintaining our commitment to our customers. John Deere fully supports the use of B20 biodiesel blends in all of our diesel equipment.”
The vast majority of OEMs, including Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, FPT Industrial and many more, currently support the use of B20 biodiesel blends in their diesel equipment. B20 is a fuel blend containing 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel. However, forward-looking fleets from coast to coast—including California, New York City, Chicago, Madison, Washington, D.C., and beyond—are looking to higher blends of biodiesel, even up to B100, to lower their carbon footprint even more dramatically.
While today’s OEM support for biodiesel is impressive, even more notable to Steve Howell, chair of the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force since 1994, is the level of biodiesel research that is being conducted by several equipment manufacturers in partnership with Clean Fuels Alliance America and research institutions like the National Renewable Energy Lab and others. OEMs are already doing cooperative testing on B20 and higher biodiesel blends in their future ultra-low emissions diesel engine (ULEDE) platforms, as well as in equipment for other markets desiring low-carbon fuels, such as ocean-going vessels, railroads, and on-ground gas turbines. ULEDE tailpipe emissions will be near zero and will be required by the California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA starting in 2024-’30.
“The biodiesel industry is already doing this work, and we are committed to adapting the ASTM fuel specifications as needed to ensure customers will have trouble-free use of whatever level of biodiesel they want to use in the future,” Howell said. “We value our partnerships with the OEMs, and we are doing what is needed to remain an important part of the climate solution—both now and in the future.”
Chris Walters with IVECO Group (formerly part of CNH Industrial) said, “The research conducted in these types of partnerships is essential for OEMs like us to better understand the impacts of different fuel properties on our products. Manufacturers have an exciting path forward to deliver cleaner solutions that can achieve sustainability goals while meeting the needs of our customers. We are very pleased that biodiesel blends can help meet this important challenge.”