Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles, especially those that are still under warranty, might want to steer clear of pumps marked B20 for the time being. As we've reported before, the reason why no manufacturer will currently honor a warranty when using anything greater than B5 is that there is still no standard for B20 fuel. That means they can't validate their engines and fuel systems based on known properties. That standard is currently being developed by a Society of Automotive Engineers technical committee and will hopefully be finalized some time this year.

Currently, buying B20 is a bit of a roll of the dice. Researchers from Wood's Hole Oceanographic institute were testing biodiesel to evaluate the effects of spills on marine environments. They bought samples from a dozen distributors around the country and found the concentrations of biodiesel in B20 (nominally 20 percent bio and 80 percent petroleum) ranged from a low of 10 percent to as much as 74 percent (!). While using more biofuel may be desirable in many respects, if a vehicle isn't prepared for such high concentrations, it might cause serious damage. Homebrew biodiesel or blends are fine if you know what you're getting into, but most people need a reliable source of fuel and don't want to have to pay for expensive repairs. The U.S. Defense Department is a major consumer of biodiesel and of the samples tested only ten percent met their standard which may cause them to curtail purchases.

[Source: World Business Council on Sustainable Development, via EcoGeek]


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