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Winterized biodiesel fuels

New Biodiesel Fuels Solve Cold-Starting Problem

By Linda McGraw
April 21, 1998

Revved-up biodiesel fuels that start engines at cold temperatures down to five degrees F have been developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists.

The research should help speed up the commercialization of biodiesel fuels--a boost for U.S. soybean growers and the environment, say scientists at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill.

Cold has been a problem for biodiesel fuels because temperatures at or below freezing cause them to form small, solid, waxy crystals that clump into larger ones. The larger crystals block fuel lines and filters.

The ARS scientists’ solution: a three-step winterization process of mixing in additives, chilling the fuel and filtering out solids. In laboratory tests, the researchers produced biodiesel fuels that started engines at temperatures as low as 5 degrees F, performance comparable to petroleum-based diesel fuels.

The research can help put biodiesel fuels in city buses, government and industry fleet cars, and underground mining equipment. These vehicles are among the first to pave the way for acceptance of biodiesel as an alternative fuel or as a fuel extender for mixing with standard petroleum diesel fuels.

The federal Energy Policy Act requires 75 percent of all new state and federal vehicles to be fitted for alternative fuels by the year 2001.

If all U.S. city buses used biodiesel, it would require the oil from 43 million bushels of soybeans annually. There are enough niche markets for biodiesel to make profits for the nation’s 400,000 soybean growers.

The April issue of Agricultural Research, ARS’ monthly magazine, has an article about the research. The article is also on the World Wide Web at:


Scientific contact: Robert O. Dunn, USDA/ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, 1815 N. University Street, Peoria, Illinois. Phone (309) 681-6531, fax (309) 681-6340, e- mail

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