ESG & Industry Updates

ASTM Spec for Higher Bio Blends Moves Heat Towards Lower Carbon Future

Posted by Ed Burke on May 26, 2015 1:48:24 PM

Chalkboard image with Biofule in focus

ASTM International released its new spec for 6-20% bio blended heating oil (BioHeat) this past March. The prior spec only covered blends of up to 5% - like those you can pull from many racks now. 

This change comes as the rolling sulfur reductions in many New England and Northeast states is beginning. Most of these states are dropping sulfur to 15ppm by 2018, with some already at that level for heating oil (ie New York).

These changes in tandem are a huge push forward for the industry on both reducing emissions, and moving to a more environmentally friendly, domestically produced, bio blended product.

The hope is having an official ASTM spec for higher blends of Bio will encourage use of those blends to grow, because it will eliminate the uncertainty of product quality for consumers, dealers, and marketers. Additionally, the spec will allow manufacturers and OEMs to determine what blend their equipment can support, and they will be able to make adjustments to adapt to higher blends in an educated and informed manner.

There is less concern environmentally with moving to higher bio blends than we see with ethanol blends, because biodiesel can be produced from recycled grease, animal fats - essentially waste stock versus being 100% derived from virgin food crops (ie soybeans), whereas that is not the case for ethanol, which has been haunted by food vs fuel impacts. 

I wrote an article for the May issue of Oil & Energy Magazine on the topic of the new Bio spec and the move to cleaner heating oil, which you can read in full by clicking here:  "Transforming Heating Oil for a Low-Carbon Future"


Read More

Topics: Oil & Energy Magazine, Bioheat, Biodiesel, astm

BioHeat Workshop Buzz

Posted by Ed Burke on Oct 27, 2011 8:22:00 PM

The industry buzz at the Northeast Bioheat Workshop this year in Pittsburg centered on the aggressive advertising campaign by the Natural Gas industry that promotes its product as the lower cost, domestically produced and more environmentally friendly solution to conventional oil heat.

NORA president John Huber took issue with the claims to environmental benefits, pointing out that “Methane is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gases, but the natural gas industry has ignored that.” (Methane is the primary component of natural gas and the largest source for greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is lost in all phases of natural gas production and distribution)

Massachusetts Oilheat Council President Michael Ferrante noted that the commercials were largely accurate, but struck a nerve. Ferrante said that the Oilheat market needs the environmental and efficiency benefits of biodiesel in order to compete with natural gas.

Bioheat blended with ULSD at the B20 level clearly outperforms domestic natural gas. However, heating systems are currently only approved at a B5 level. It is estimated that there are between 6 to 7 million Oilheat furnaces in residential homes. Expecting these homeowners to switch to new burners so they can run higher blends of Bioheat is not realistic, so it is critical that Bioheat’s impact on older equipment is assessed.

Michael Devine from the National Biodiesel Board spoke about the extensive marketing campaign underway in New York City to garner market acceptance for Bioheat, saying “Bioheat is the evolution of oil heat.”

Home heat dealers say that establishing legacy safe limits and bringing equipment approved for higher bioheat blends seems slow in coming. The industry is poised, waiting for state mandates to bring bioheat infrastructure forward. Although state mandates put fuel dealers all on a level playing field, it does not with other energy sources. How soon will we see equipment approvals and bioheat mandates to higher blends move forward?

Read More

Topics: natural gas, MOC, massachusetts biodiesel mandate, Bioheat, NORA, Biodiesel

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all