The move to official automaker support for higher blends of biodiesel has been a slow one. One important step along the way were the establishment of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for B20 (20 percent biodiesel mixed with 80 percent petro diesel) in the middle of 2008. Last year, General Motors announced that the new 6.6-liter Duramax V8 engine would be factory certified to run on B20 sometime this spring. That time is now.

GM officially announced today at the National Biodiesel Conference that the 2011 Duramax 6.6l turbo diesel engine will be able to accept B20 (more details here). This engine will be used in the 2011 Chevy Silverado, the GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups, the Chevrolet Express and the GMC Savana full-size vans. The Silverado will be unveiled this week at the Chicago Auto Show, so stay tuned for more from the Windy City.

[Source: General Motors]

PRESS RELEASE

General Motors Announces B20 Biofuel Capability for New, 2011 Duramax 6.6l Turbo Diesel

GRAPEVINE, Texas, Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- GM announced today that its new lineup of heavy-duty diesel pickups will have B20 biodiesel capability. B20 fuel is a blend of 20-percent biodiesel and 80-percent conventional diesel, which helps lower carbon dioxide emissions and lessens dependence on petroleum. The announcement was made at the National Biodiesel Conference.

GM's new Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel engine has been substantially revised to include B20 capability, as well as meet strict new emissions standards effective this year. The new Duramax will power the redesigned 2011 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups, as well as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. Chevrolet will unveil the 2011 Silverado heavy-duty trucks at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 10.

"B20 capability in our new heavy-duty trucks is the latest addition to a growing number of alternate fuel options offered by General Motors," said Mike Robinson, vice president, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "We are seeking different paths to fuel solutions in order to maximize efficiency, reduce emissions and minimize the dependence on petroleum."

GM already leads in the marketing of FlexFuel vehicles capable of running on E85 ethanol with more than 4 million vehicles on the road today. Like ethanol, biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable fuel made primarily of plant matter - mostly soybean oil. In pure form, biodiesel lowers carbon dioxide emissions.

"The 2007 federal energy bill mandates increased biodiesel production and more states and municipalities are requiring it," said Robinson. "Biodiesel production is growing and GM is excited and ready to satisfy demand with our new B20 capable Duramax 6.6L engine."

Estimates by National Biodiesel Board indicate about 700 million gallons of the fuel were produced in 2008 - up from about 500,000 gallons in 1999. Market fluctuations caused production to decrease in 2009, but it is expected to rise with more mandates and the availability of approved vehicles, such as the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty trucks.

Validated and approved fuel

Extensive testing and validation was performed on the Duramax 6.6L using B20 that meets ASTM International's standard D7467, which covers biodiesel blends between B6 and B20.

"True biodiesel is created through transesterfication and that's what the Duramax 6.6L is designed to use," said Coleman Jones, GM biofuels implementation manager. "Strict testing and validation was performed to ensure the new engine is B20-capable, however approved biodiesel is the only way to guarantee engine performance and longevity."

The Duramax diesel is covered by GM's five-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

To make the Duramax 6.6L and its fuel system compatible with B20, GM upgraded some seals and gasket materials to withstand the ester content of biodiesel and included an upgraded fuel filter that includes a coalescing element. It improves the separation of water that may be present in the fuel, because biodiesel can attract and absorb water. Also, additional heating of the fuel circuit was added to reduce the chance of fuel gelling or waxing that could plug filters.

The Duramax 6.6L's diesel particulate regeneration system features a downstream injector that supplies fuel for the regeneration process. This greatly reduces potential oil dilution, important with using biodiesel. Downstream injection saves fuel and works better with B20 than in-cylinder post injection.

About General Motors

General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 204,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com
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