Biodiesel, which is essentially diesel fuel made from left over French fry juice and the like, has long been the darling of alt-fuel types. It’s never been seen as a total replacement for the petro-diesel put into delivery trucks and the like, but ‘why just throw something away when we could put it to much better use,’ goes the reasoning.
And more than a few people have glommed onto this idea. People like the city of San Francisco, that runs all of it’s diesel vehicles on bio-D, and the EarthRace power boat, that circumnavigated the globe using only “fuel” that would have been thrown away.
Now it turns out that not only does bio-diesel have an obvious eco benefit, but there’s a performance benefit there as well.
A recent study conducted at Purdue University shows that biodiesel performs flawlessly in real world situations, and stacks up dead even when compared to petro-D. The study shows that there is no difference in performance and durability for semi trailer trucks using B20, an industry standard blend of 20 percent bio-diesel and ultra-low sulfur pump diesel.
“In terms of performance, reliability and maintenance costs, it was basically a wash. The only differences are environmental and economic,” said John Lumkes, the assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering who led the study at Purdue University.
The yearlong Purdue study compared two truck fleets of ten vehicles each. One fleet used only the ultra-low sulfur fuel, and the other the B20 blend. Over the duration of the study the trucks had the same engines, similar miles, and drove nearly the same number of miles, so things were pretty balanced, mechanically speaking.
So what this says is really simple: If you’re an outfit that runs a large number of trucks, say a city or a delivery service or a garbage company, look into bio-diesel.
Photo from Flickr user Incase Designs