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.


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Anonymous said...

I have been running biodiesel for years in my VW bug with no problems!

fuel saver for trucks said...

Thanks to give the report on the status of our fuel, selling. Very informative post.

Anonymous said...

Easy to understand,I like it!