Meanwhile, refiners and distributors are compensating for loss of lubricity by adding fuel conditioners or biodiesel. A 1% biodiesel blend will improve diesel fuel lubricity by 65%. Maximum lubricity increase is achieved with a 2% biodiesel concentration, but higher concentrations can be problematic.

Biodiesel is processed from vegetable or animal oils, but filtered french fry oil is not biodiesel. As defined by American Society for Testing and Materials standard D675, biodisel is “transesterified” oil. It is sulfur-free, non-toxic, non-polluting, domestically produced renewable fuel.

Pure biodiesel has 8% to 9% less energy content (BTU/gallon) than No. 2 diesel. When blended to 20% (B20), energy loss is about 1.75%. Most engine makers prefer limiting use to blends of B5 to B2.

In cold weather, B20 will cloud and eventually plug fuel filters at temperatures as much as 10º F warmer than the base fuel alone will. Additives correct this, adding to cost, but other incentives may be available for biodiesel users.

Some states are considering requiring biodiesel for operators contracting with state and local governments. Other states are considering implementing biodiesel requirements. While operating economics may suffer slightly, biodiesel offers strong environmental and energy security benefits. It cuts demand for foreign oil and is completely biodegradable in its pure form.

— Beginning this issue, Paul Abelson ( will be writing our monthly column on maintenance, regulations, and other fleet challenges. He is a former director of the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations, a board member of Truck Writers of North America, and active in the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Pump labels

Since last June, all pumps dispensing diesel fuels must be labeled as to the sulfur content of each fuel. The type of fuel must be in 24-point type, the sulfur level in 20-point, and all other required language in 20-point. (A point is 1/72 of an inch.)

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel and low-sulfur diesel labels must have green header backgrounds. High-sulfur off-road fuel must have a black header background.

Labels must be on the upper portion of the pump and be clearly visible.