/ / / Biodiesel FAQs

Biodiesel FAQs

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable, oxygenated fuel made from agricultural resources such as soybeans or rapeseeds. It contains no petroleum but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel refers to the pure alternative fuel before blending with petroleum-based diesel fuel. Biodiesel blends are denoted as "BXX," with "XX" representing the percentage of biodiesel contained in the blend. For example, B20 fuel is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent conventional diesel. B100 is pure biodiesel. In Europe, biodiesel is typically produced from rapeseed oil and in the U.S., from soybean oil. It also can be made from other new and recycled oilseed crops, animal fats and grease.

What is the John Deere position on biodiesel use in its engines?

All John Deere engines can use biodiesel blends. B5 blends are preferred, but concentrations up to 20 percent (B20) can be used providing the biodiesel used in the fuel blend meets the standards set by the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) D6751 or European Standard (EN) 14214.

What is the difference between ASTM D6751 and EN 14214?

ASTM International is a standards group consisting of technical experts from producers, users, consumers, government and academia. ASTM standards are commonly recognized in the U.S. and Canada. ASTM D6751 identifies specifications B100 must meet before being blended with petroleum diesel, typically in blends up to B20.

The European Union EN 14214 specification is similar to ASTM D6751 but is somewhat more stringent in some elements of the specification. The other difference is that EN 14214 was developed with B100 in mind and ASTM D6751 was developed with blends up to B20 in mind.

Which John Deere engines can be used with biodiesel?

John Deere engines without exhaust filters can operate on biodiesel blends below and above B20 (up to 100 percent biodiesel); however, they should be operated at levels above B20 ONLY if the biodiesel is permitted by law and meets the EN 14214 specification. Engines operating on biodiesel blends above B20 may not fully comply with or be permitted by all applicable emissions regulations. For these engines, John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are required when using biodiesel blends of B20 or higher, and recommended when using lower biodiesel blends.

John Deere engines with exhaust filters should not use biodiesel blends above B20. Concentrations above B20 may harm the engine's emissions control system. Specific risks include, but are not limited to, more frequent regeneration, soot accumulation, and increased intervals for ash removal. For these engines, John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are required when using B20, and recommended when using lower biodiesel blends.

What are the advantages of biodiesel?

Besides its environmental and energy-security benefits, quality biodiesel results in improved lubricity, minimal sulfur emissions, and reduced aromatics. Biodiesel has a high cetane content for faster ignition. It also produces less visible smoke and lowers the amount of particulate matter, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions produced by an engine.

At 3.2 to 1, biodiesel has an energy balance ratio higher than most alternative fuels. This means a gallon of biodiesel provides users with 3.2 times the energy it takes to produce it.

Why does John Deere support the use of biofuels?

John Deere supports the use of biodiesel because it recognizes the importance of biofuels to its customers and to the environment. The use of biofuels in John Deere diesel engines is the right thing to do from a long-term economic standpoint, as well as environmental, energy-security, and rural-development standpoints.

Is there any special protocol for equipment using biodiesel?

Observing best practices is especially important when biodiesel is being used. The following maintenance procedures should be observed with equipment that uses biodiesel:

  • Drain and clean fuel storage tank before and after using biodiesel
  • Install tank caps and covers properly to prevent water from entering
  • Clean any spills on painted surfaces immediately if using B20 or higher blends
  • Replace fuel filter more often initially
  • Check engine oil sump level daily prior to starting the equipment
  • Switch to regular diesel fuel for standby generators, occasional/seasonal applications and extended periods of storage or idle of the vehicle
  • John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are required when using blends of B20 or greater and are recommended when using lower biodiesel blends

Do I need to modify any service intervals when switching from petrodiesel to biodiesel?

Due to the solvent nature of biodiesel and the potential for "cleaning" of the vehicle fuel tank and lines, new fuel filters should be installed when biodiesel is introduced to older or used engines. For the first two changes, the fuel filter life will be half the standard.

When using biodiesel fuel, the engine oil level must be checked daily. If oil becomes diluted with fuel, shorten oil change intervals.

When using biodiesel blends greater than B20, oil service intervals should be cut in half. In no instance should the fuel dilution of the oil be allowed to exceed 5 percent. OILSCAN™ can be used to verify fuel dilution levels.

Refer to Diesel Engine Oil and Filter Service Intervals for more details regarding biodiesel and engine oil change intervals.

Are there any biodiesel fuel storage guidelines?

Biodiesel blends up to B20 should be used within 90 days of the date of biodiesel manufacture. Biodiesel blends from B21 to B100 should be used within 45 days of the date of biodiesel manufacture.

The reason for these usage time periods is to help ensure a stable fuel because biodiesel is naturally biodegradable. In addition to prompt usage, storage tanks should be protected from direct sun, frost, and other extremes. They should also be kept as full as possible to minimize condensation since water accelerates microbial growth. To improve storage and extend fuel life, John Deere recommends the use of a fuel stabilizer. Consult your John Deere dealer for approved biodiesel fuel stabilizers. To be effective, the stabilizer needs to be added when the fuel is fresh (close to the time it is produced).

Request a certificate of analysis from your fuel distributor to ensure that the fuel is compliant with the above specifications.

Testing the fuel to ensure it continues to meet specifications is recommended.

How does using biodiesel affect the engine warranty?

The John Deere warranty covers only defects in material and workmanship as manufactured and sold by John Deere. Failures caused by poor quality fuel of any type cannot be compensated under our warranty. IMPORTANT: Raw pressed vegetable oils are NOT acceptable for use as fuel in any concentration in John Deere engines. Their use could cause engine failure.

Are there any drawbacks to using biodiesel fuel?

The risk of problems occurring in the engine increases as the level of biodiesel blend increases.

The following must be considered when using biodiesel blends up to B20:

  • Expect a 2 percent reduction in power and a 3 percent reduction in fuel economy when using B20
  • Cold weather flow degradation
  • Stability and storage issues (moisture absorption, oxidation, microbial growth)
  • Possible filter restriction and plugging (usually a problem when first switching to biodiesel on used engines)
  • Possible fuel leakage through seals and hoses
  • Possible reduction of service life of engine components

In addition to those factors listed above, the following must also be considered when using biodiesel blends above B20:

  • Expect up to a 12 percent reduction in power and an 18 percent reduction in fuel economy when using B100
  • Possible coking and/or blocked injector nozzles, resulting in power loss and engine misfire if John Deere-approved fuel conditioners containing detergent/dispersant additives are not used
  • Possible crankcase oil dilution, requiring more frequent oil changes
  • Potential corrosion of fuel injection equipment
  • Possible lacquering and/or seizure of internal components
  • Possible formation of sludge and sediments
  • Possible thermal oxidation of fuel at elevated temperatures
  • Possible elastomer seal and gasket material degradation (primarily an issue with older engines)
  • Possible compatibility issues with other materials (including copper, lead, zinc, tin, brass and bronze) used in fuel systems and fuel-handling equipment
  • Possible reduction in water separator efficiency
  • Potential high acid levels within fuel system
  • Possible damage to paint if exposed to biodiesel

How does using biodiesel fuel affect emissions certification?

John Deere engines are certified to meet emissions standards with the prescribed EPA and EU registered fuels.

Engines operating on biodiesel blends above B20 may not fully comply with all applicable emissions regulations. It is the customer's responsibility to use the fuel that these regulations require and that the engine manufacturer recommends. In addition, it is also the customer's responsibility to obtain any local, regional or national exemptions required for the use of biodiesel in any emissions-certified John Deere engine.

Is there anything to watch for when purchasing biodiesel?

Biodiesel users in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to purchase biodiesel blends from a BQ-9000 Certified Marketer and sourced from a BQ-9000 Accredited Producer, as certified by the National Biodiesel Board. Certified Marketers and Accredited Producers can be found www.bq-9000.org.

Where can I get the John Deere-approved biodiesel fuel conditioners?

Consult your John Deere dealer for approved biodiesel fuel conditioners to improve storage and performance with biodiesel fuels.

Where can I find further information as it relates to the use of biodiesel in John Deere engines?

More information about the John Deere position on biodiesel can be found at www.JohnDeere.com/biodiesel.

Can raw pressed vegetable oils be used in John Deere engines?

Recently, there has been increased industry interest in the use of raw pressed vegetable oils as fuel in diesel engines. John Deere continues to investigate many renewable fuels.

Until those studies prove differently, raw pressed vegetable oils are not acceptable for use as fuel in any concentration in John Deere engines. There is concern that use of this fuel could cause engine failure. In addition, engines operating on such fuel may not fully comply with all applicable emissions regulations. It is the customer's responsibility to use the fuel that these regulations require and that the engine manufacturer recommends. In addition, it is also the customer's responsibility to obtain any local, regional or national exemptions required for the use of fuels in any emissions-certified John Deere engine.