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OTA points across the border in biodiesel warning

Posted: August 1, 2014

TORONTO — Ontario regulators should look at recent problems with biodiesel in Minnesota before mandating the alternative fuel for truckers in this province, says the Ontario Trucking Association.

For the past couple of years, the OTA has been expressing concern that the government’s desire to legislate the use of a B2 (2 percent biodiesel blend) in commercial trucks is premature.

OTA points to a neighbouring US state as proof that further examination is required to answer questions over operational and cost concerns, including the fuel’s cold weather performance.

Told You So: OTA says biodiesel issues
in the US could happen here

Minnesota was the first jurisdiction in North America to mandate the use of biodiesel in September 2005. Since then, the state has frozen the regulation twice — once because the supply of biodiesel did not meet proper state specifications, and more recently because truckers complained the fuel is clogging fuel filters in the winter.

State commerce officials are giving the biodiesel industry until Feb. 10 to fix problems with the soybean-based fuel, which may clogging fuel filters due to high levels of glycerin that gel in cold weather.

“If the experience in Minnesota is anything to go by, OTA is justified in its concern,” the group stated in a press release. “From the very outset, Minnesota truckers complained that their trucks were experiencing significant problems with engine fuel filters becoming plugged with black sludge or wax.”

Ontario says its biodiesel would focus more on animal-fat-based product than soy-based product, which is favoured by Minnesota. Some say that an animal-fat-based biodiesel blend has better cold weather properties than soy-based product.

Nevertheless, “we need to be sure that biodiesel lives up to its advance billing,” says OTA President David Bradley. “We can’t afford a situation like what has occurred in Minnesota. If our trucks can’t start because of clogged filters then assembly lines will shut-down.”

In Colorado, the switch to biodiesel almost shut down the entire Roaring Fork Transit Agency’s fleet of buses. The RFTA began using a B5 blend last October, and began experiencing algae growth in the biodiesel, which blocked fuel filters and damaged fuel pumps. The RFTA says it corrected the problem by using an anti-algae additive.

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