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Biodiesel Fuel Testing: Voluntary and Mandatory Standards

Jan 29, 2008
Biodiesel is an inexpensive, environmentally friendly source of energy. These benefits have sparked the public's interest in using this to fuel their cars. This increased interest has motivated many new companies and hobbyists to become producers and sellers of this new fuel.

As with any other product, producers and sellers must meet certain regulations and, in addition, are encouraged to follow suggested guidelines.

Regulations concerning the production and selling of biodiesel greatly varies from State to State. While many states do not possess explicit regulations or laws governing the production and sale of biodiesel, other states do have such regulations or laws as well as legal definitions of what qualifies.

When a state possesses an explicit legal definition of what constitutes a biodiesel fuel it usually includes one or more of the specifications, such as the D6751 specification, provided by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

The State of Michigan is perhaps one of the most stringent States in that it prohibits refiners, distributors and retailers from transferring or dispensing biodiesel containing visible "undissolved water, sediments and other suspended matter". Furthermore, Michigan retailers cannot sell from storage tanks that contain 2 inches or more of water, or a mixture of water and alcohol, at the bottom of the tank.

A comprehensive discussion of the laws and regulations governing the production, storage and selling is beyond the scope of this article. Readers interested in such laws, pertaining to one or more specific States, are referred to the webpage for the US Department of Energy.

The laws and regulations of Michigan illustrate the importance of fuel testing by any company wishing to produce, distribute and/or sell on a national scale any fuel derived from agricultural products.

National producers, distributors and retailers in this industry may also be further motivated to implement a comprehensive testing program in order to become certified as a BQ-9000 producer or marketer by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC). Central to the BQ-9000 certification process is full compliance with the ASTM D6751 specification for B100 (i.e., a fuel mixture composed of 100% biodiesel) blend stock for middle distillate fuels.

The ASTM D6751 places limits on a number of the properties of biodiesel fuel. Limits are placed upon the combined mass concentration of calcium and magnesium, the closed cup flashpoint, the combined volume concentration of water and sediment and many more properties.

Biodiesel testing of the properties listed within ASTM D6751-07b is an important step in meeting the legal regulations and legal definition of biodiesel put forth by many States as well as helping to meet a major criterion of the BQ-9000 certification process.

Perhaps most importantly by ensuring that these alternative fuels meet the standards of the ASTM D6751 a producer, distributor or retailer can guarantee their customers a quality fuel. In turn, the producer, distributor or retailer will increase their likelihood in remaining competitive in an industry having a bright future.
About the Author
For biodiesel fuel testing, Midwest Laboratories offers kits in accordance with ASTM 6751 for B100 Biodiesel. Midwest Labs develops testing packages specific for clients' needs meeting the requirements set by industry standards. Visit http://store.midwestlabs.com/Biodiesel_Testing/
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