Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter Blend For Sale

Is anybody out there? Just kidding, folks, I know Andrew reads this blog once in a while.
Mare Cromwell requested an update for Baltimore Biodiesel Cooperative members, so here it is:
The technical committee has requested K50B50 (soy) be sold as the winter blend.
Fuel liaison Mark Eckley was unable to secure this blend from McComas Fuel Company and had to go to Taylor Oil for the blend.

We'll be selling it Friday and Saturday, November 30 and December 1, 2007.
Price will reflect huge uptick in K1 and B100 prices: $4.30 per gallon.

See you out there at Mill Valley!
Renewal of membership dues is due as the anniversary date has passed... just a friendly reminder ;-))

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Fuel Thanksgiving Weekend

We will not be able to sell fuel this weekend, but we did find some soy biodiesel, cloud point 0C.
That's 20 degrees F below the cloud point listed for the fuel we just removed from our tank.

We will be selling B50K50, our winter blend, starting Friday November 30.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quality Control Program

Discussion of how to make sure we are delivering the best biodiesel possible led to the following resolutions:
The coop will require our supplier to buy only 100% soy biodiesel. The high gelling point of the current fuel is unacceptable (solid fuel at 40 F is not possible with soy biodiesel).\
The coop will require documentation of the cloud point of fuel from the supplier, in keeping with ASTM 6751 standard.
Mark Eckley and John Shepley will be the contacts for McComas or Taylor fuel supply companies.

The coop will install a fuel/water separator filter on the storage tank. Water encourages microbial growth that can cause sputtering. Condensation within the tank is unavoidable in fall and spring when temperature swings are large and humidity levels in the air change. This fuel polishing system will remove water from the fuel and also filter out any microbes. Estimated cost of $300 will be paid with coop funds.

The storage tank will be emptied and rinsed with kerosene before a new batch of fuel is purchased. The tech committee hopes this will be necessary only this one time. However, each batch of fuel will be tested with a pHlip test available from Cyto Culture Environmental labs. 10 field tests were purchased and will be used to evaluate the next batches of fuel, before sale to members.

Fuel additives and fuel filters will be made available to members, at cost, at the kiosk in Mill Valley. Please email your requests to the Yahoo! group or post them here on the blog as comments. The tech committee will also work on publishing a handbook for all members to help avoid fuel issues in the winter and when first acclimating your car to biodiesel.

Poll results

Several members responded to our poll:
Of 15 respondents, 10 members had fuel quality issues, ranging from gelled fuel lines, to sputtering engine performance due to clogged fuel filters.
4 fill up weekly, 6 every other week and 5 less frequently.
Suggestions included:
Better communication.
Card swipe machine.
Testing fuel on site before sale to members.
Buy fuel polishing, water separator filter system.

Meeting Notes, November 10, 2007

12 members in attendance.
We focused on fuel quality.
3 measures were voted on and passed:
1- We will test each batch received from our supplier and require delivery of B100 derived from Soy oil.
Measure passed 12-0
2-Fuel polishing system will be installed to remove water and filter fuel prior to sale.
Measure passed 12-0
3-Tech committee 'crisis pay'
Measure passed 8-1

Several other topics were discussed and some duties were delegated.
A) Notifying membership of fuel issues.
Steve Howard will assist Mare Cromwell in assembling a member e-mail database. These signups may coincide with signup for the automated fueling setup.

Tech committee and Davis Bookhart will send a message to the membership via the Yahoo! group if further fuel issues crop up.

B) Membership renewals are coming due.
Please leave a legible copy of your email address when fueling up on your next visit. Also plan to pay your $30 for dues.

C) Remediation for expenses, due to fuel problems.
Submit a detailed description of your fuel problem and costs (towing, etc.) to Davis Bookhart. Davis has $ to disperse to inconvenienced members.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fuel Update


I want to report on the status of our fuel, selling, and next steps.

The coop will not be able to sell fuel this weekend. The fuel in our tank is gelled at this point, and last ditch efforts to thaw it and empty the tank last night didn't succeed. We need to work with our supplier and find other resources to get the tank completely emptied and cleaned sufficiently to put a winter blend in it. Because of the amount of unknowns about this fuel, we do not want to try to blend it with kerosene or anything else to try to sell it.

I don't want to comment in detail about the quality of the fuel for fear of mis-leading anyone. We don't have all the answers yet. Here is what we do know for sure. The fuel that we have in our tank and had sold for the past several weeks was bought by us as a B99, ASTM certified fuel, but it is gelling at even higher temperatures than one would expect for Soy-based biodiesel. It has gelled in the tanks of several people's cars, causing them to need to be towed and repaired. When it gels, it seems to form a milky white solid, the consistency of Crisco. Many people have used it, some in 100% concentrations, with no apparent problems. We don't really know the underlying cause, although several possibilities are strongly suspected and are being tested. To that end, Mark Eckley and I will have a conference call to McComas today to try to find out if ASTM traceability for this fuel can be verified and the results of tests (if any) that have been performed yet. We will also explore with McComas remedies to our situation - both emptying our tank, and the 500 gallons of unuseable fuel we now own. Mark and I will report on that conversation later today.

If you have used this fuel recently, and your car has been running well for the past week, there is no reason to suspect you have anything to worry about. If your car starts roughly, stalls, or runs badly, it is possible that you have some gelled fuel in your system. From what's been reported, if the Biodiesel is blended with petroleum to at least 50% when it is a liquid, it will pass through the engine with no ill effects. If it gels first, it will not easily blend with petroleum until it thaws. A couple of additives have been suggested that may help the situation. One is called Arctic Exprees (by Power Systems). Another is called Power Service which is available at Advance Auto parts. Don't hesitate to use either at double the recommended dose. They will help de-gel the fuel, will disperse water,a nd will help keep filters / injectors clear. I suggest, if you suspect gelling, that you add the additives to your tank and try to start your car and let it idle during the warmest part of the day. Let it idle for a while. The engine recirculates warm fuel back to the tank which can help de-gel the fuel and help the additives do their job. If it seems to run okay, go and add petro diesel.

Several people have been working very hard to resolve the fuel issue. Folks spend considerable time last weekend and this week trying to drain, clear, thaw, or otherwise resolve these fuel issues. I appreciate everyone's efforts, and even more imploortantly, I greatly appreciate the positive attitude most members have expressed about these issues and about the good things the coop is accomplishing in spite of this setback. Thank you all.


John Shepley

Baltimore Biodiesel Coop.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Letter to Coop Members - gelling issues

Dear Members,

As you may know, a number of Members have had trouble with biodiesel over the past few weeks. We believe these problems are caused by the high temperature gel point of the current batch of biodiesel. It is important to note that the biodiesel is good quality - it will not damage your engine - but is vulnerable to cold weather. We are working to correct this problem by "winterizing" the fuel.

If you recently purchased biodiesel from the coop and still have a significant amount in your tank, we strongly recommend taking the following actions:

1. Top off your tank with regular #2 diesel fuel or #1 diesel fuel (kerosene) if available.

2. Get some Arctic Express (by Power Systems) fuel additive and double the recommended treatment.

We are working with our supplier to replace our current fuel and to get our winter mix of soy oil and kerosene. This worked well all last winter and should allow us to resume our normal operations. We plan to institute a more vigerous testing and monitoring regimine to ensure that Members always get the highest quality fuel that is properly mixed during the winter months.

We apologize to our members who had problems with gelling fuel, and we are discussing ways in which we can use a small allocation of coop funding to help defray a portion of the costs incurred . For all members who did have troubles, please send a note to me directly (

While the problems with gelling fuel were not realted to the quality of the fuel (it is good quality), we've decided this is a good opportunity to take additional steps to ensure that the fuel quality remains high. In the next week or so, we will be installing a new filtration system that will clean and "polish" the fuel daily.

We hope to have the winterized fuel and the new filtration system in place as soon as possible. Until then, we appreciate your patience and look forward to filling your cars up again real soon.

Warmest regards,

Davis Bookhart
President, Baltimore Biodiesel Coop

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Coop Meeting November 10, 2007

All members encouraged to attend.
Gather at Mill Valley center, 1030am.

Meeting wil run from 11am to noon.