In a welcome development for Bioheat advocates, standards organization ASTM International released performance specifications for blends of 6-20% biodiesel with traditional heating oil on March 24.
The newly updated ASTM D396-15a, “Standard Specification for Fuel Oils,” supplements the existing No. 1 and No. 2 grades, which address blends of up to 5% biodiesel (B5). The new B6-B20 grade adds some parameters for stability and allows for a slightly higher distillation temperature, mirroring specifications for B6-B20 in diesel fuel implemented by ASTM in 2008, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
“The data set behind these changes is one of the most extensive I’ve seen in more than 20 years at ASTM,” said Steve Howell, MARC-IV Consulting and chair of the ASTM biodiesel task force. “Having an official standard for higher biodiesel blends in heating oil will help foster consumer confidence and give blenders and distributors a needed tool to incorporate more low carbon, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel into heating oil.”
Despite the lack of performance specifications to this point, a number of heating oil distributors have reported marketing B20 blends for up to a decade or more. In February, a bill was introduced to the New York City Council requiring all heating oil in the city to reach a minimum of B20 by the year 2030.
“The oilheat industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance, “by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur levels across the board.”