New Green Machines
The latest heavy-duty diesel pickups will be able to burn greener—fuel, that is. New models are coming down the road that use B20 (80% ultra-low-sulfur diesel and 20% biodiesel).
GM's next-generation Duramax 6.6-liter turbo diesel engine has been substantially revised to allow B20 capability and meet strict new emissions standards that become effective this year. The new Duramax engine will power the redesigned 2011 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups.
Ford has also added B20 compatability in its all-new 2011 Super Duty. These moves match the B20 capability of the Cummins 6.7-liter inline-six that currently powers the Dodge Ram HD lineup. Currently, Dodge Ram B20 trucks are available only to fleet and military customers.
Heavy Chevy. "B20 capability in our new heavy-duty trucks is the latest addition to a growing number of
alternate fuel options offered by General Motors,” says Mike Robinson, vice president of environment, energy and safety policy. "We are seeking different paths to fuel solutions in order to maximize efficiency, reduce emissions and minimize the dependence on petroleum.”
To make the Duramax 6.6-liter and its fuel system compatible with B20, GM upgraded seals and gasket materials to withstand the ester content of biodiesel and included an upgraded fuel filter that features a coalescing element. It improves the separation of water that may be present in the fuel since biodiesel can attract and absorb water. Also, additional heating of the fuel circuit was included to reduce the chance of fuel gelling or waxing, which can plug filters.
The Duramax 6.6-liter diesel particulate regeneration system features a downstream injector that supplies fuel for the regeneration process. This reduces oil dilution, which is important when using biodiesel.
Built tough. The 2011 F-Series
Super Duty features new powertrains led by the Ford-designed, -engineered and -built 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbocharged diesel engine, which has up to B20 compatibility.
Because biodiesel fuel varies in quality in the U.S. and Canada, durability testing cycles were run on multiple blends to ensure the robustness of the system.
"These tests give us the full spectrum of Super Duty customers—from those who run their trucks at max power with a max load for long periods to those who use them more in a start-stop mode,” says Ed Waszczenko, lead engine durability engineer.
The National Biodiesel Board estimates that 700 million gallons of B20 was produced in 2008, up from 500,000 gallons in 1999.
Biodiesel Tax Credit Revival
The expiration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit on Dec. 31, 2009, has been a hot topic in Washington, D.C., with several farm-state lawmakers and the bio-diesel industry pushing for its return.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of tax extenders in December 2009 that included a one-year extension (through Dec. 31, 2010) of the biodiesel tax credit. The bill was approved 241 to 181.
The Senate was poised to act on the bill (HR 4213), to be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, in early March.
The provisions that lawmakers are working on extend the credit for only one year, which means it will have to be revisited again later this year. That could mean yet another legislative battle to keep the tax credit going.
It remains to be seen whether the looming November elections help or hinder efforts for any further extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Still, it looks like the tax credit will be back and will help keep the biodiesel industry running through 2010.
Written by Pam Smith and Roger Bernard