Blended biofuels are often inaccurately labeled, that is the claim in a study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Who discovered that many distributors are involved in what is known as “splash blending.”
The organization took samples of blended biofuels from smaller retailers and discovered that some blends contained less than the advertised percentage of biofuel.
Chris Reddy, who is a marine chemist, compared samples of pure biodiesel and those of blended biofuels from distributors across the USA. When testing fuels that were advertised as 20% biodiesel (B20) they discovered that the actual biodiesel content of the fuel was as low as half the advertised amount, and only contained 10% biodiesel.
One hundred percent biofuel is known as B100, is a complex mix of vegetable oils and animal fat products that can be used in modified and re-tuned diesel engines. ‘Blended’ biofuels are a combination of B100 mixed with petroleum-based products.
The organization found that retailers in the State of Minnesota were selling 2% biofuel (B2), which was advertised as B5 or in some cases even B20.
Supporters of biofuels claim they give off far less pollution and are less toxic than traditional petroleum-based fuels. Chris Reddy stated that if biodiesel is sold correctly, in the proper proportions, it is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional diesel.
He voiced disappointment at the findings, saying that the industry needed credibility to maintain consumer confidence in alternative biofuels. The organization was not actually studying the percentage of biodiesel in fuels. They came across their findings by accident, while researching potential effects of biodiesel spills on the marine environment.
However, Dr Reddy and his colleagues believed it was in the public interest to publish their findings in the respected scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, which will be available in April.
Blended biodiesel is often mixed in local distribution hubs with the simple mechanical method known as “splash blending,” With this method various percentages of the active ingredients are stired together and produced the biofuel. Simply pouring them together insures the proper mix is achieved, that is assuming the correct percentage of the ingredients is introduced in the first place.
In addition to the incorrect advertising factor, these mislabeled biodiesel’s can cause serious engine problems, especially in cold weather. This is because a poor mix will freeze in the fuel lines, causing blockages.
The USA does not have a legal standard for the mixture of traditional and biofuel diesels; there is no checking, and no enforcement to discover if the advertised percentage of biofuel is actually correct.