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Biodiesel remains ‘fuel of choice’ for fleets looking to improve sustainability credentials

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New research has revealed that diesel powertrains are expected to remain popular for years to come, with the use of biodiesel blends in diesel equipment remaining the preferred choice for fleets looking to improve the sustainability of their operations.

Attendees at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo heard from John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, who said: “Despite what some headlines may have you believe, diesel is not dead – period.”

Estimates from the Fuels Institute show that diesel vehicle stocks are expected to increase 14% by 2035, while diesel vehicle miles travelled are expected to jump 23% in the freight transportation industry during the same period. However, this increase will be supported by a diesel vehicle fleet that is expected to become around 30% more fuel efficient under new standards.

“Government forecasts indicate that the market for diesel fuel, especially in the freight sector, will remain relatively strong for the foreseeable future with efficiency standards resulting in a slight downward trajectory in demand over time,” Eichberger continued. “A consequence of efficiency regulations is that modern engines are much more susceptible to diesel fuel impurities. Therefore, the entire diesel fuel value chain has to work together and remain focused on ensuring fuel quality from production through distribution, storage, and use.”

New research from the US National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) added further context for the use of biodiesel in diesel engines and equipment.

“NTEA’s 2020 Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey indicates a slight decrease this year in overall vehicle purchases, however the fleet segment has proven in past cycles to be stable and consistent year-over-year,” explained George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA. “There is increased public awareness and growing commitments from government bodies for improved sustainable fleet efforts.

“With pressure for fleet operators to improve more than just their new vehicle purchases, a renewed commitment to their legacy fleet performance is also rising. As biodiesel is one of the preeminent solutions for new and legacy fleet operators to use to improve performance, demand should continue to grow in this cycle.”

Biodiesel has ranked as the most widely used alternative fuel option by fleet participants in NTEA’s Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey in four of the past five years.

Conference host the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has worked closely with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other industry partners over the past 20 years to develop strict fuel quality specifications for biodiesel through ASTM International.

As new fuel efficiency and emissions standards are set to be introduced for diesel engine and equipment manufacturers, the US biodiesel industry has stepped up with a number of ongoing technical projects with OEMs and research institutions to continually improve the quality and performance of biodiesel fuel in diesel engines.

“The National Biodiesel Board is pleased to work with our OEM and industry partners to optimise the use of biodiesel in the diesel engine technologies available today and in the future," said Scott Fenwick, technical director of the NBB. "Strong partnerships, such as these, help ensure that diesel engines and biodiesel fuels will remain a dominant force in the freight and transportation industries for years to come.”