Biodiesel Study Rolls On

John Davis

Decker Truck LinesUpdating a story I first reported on March 22nd, Decker Truck Lines of Fort Dodge, Iowa has hit the 750,000-mile mark in a two-year, two-million-mile study of how well B20, 20% biodiesel, works in long-haul semi trucks. This story in Farm says the study is the first of its kind in this country and is getting some help from the federal government:

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded a $74,990 grant to help fund the study which is being largely performed at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. Don Heck, biofuels program coordinator at Iowa Central, said the grant dollars will be used for a variety of purposes in the study including additional expenses incurred by the test vehicles owned by Decker Truck Line Inc. of Fort Dodge.

Heck said the study was first launched in October 2006 with studies being performed on a fleet of 20 tractor-trailers. One-half of the trucks burn petroleum diesel with the other 10 trucks burning a B20 blend. Decker and Iowa Central are collaborating with the Iowa Soybean Association, Caterpillar, Inc., USDA and the National Biodiesel Board as sponsors of the study.

The article goes on to say a big part of the work has been perfecting the proper blend of biodiesel and then extracting the information such as gas mileage and wear and tear on the engine. The constant needed to be the blend of biodiesel, but Dale Decker, an industry and governmental relations director for Decker, said that was next to impossible.

‘‘Diesel fuel varies wildly when it comes in on the pipeline,’’ Decker said. ‘‘We know though that the biodiesel that we get from Doolittles (Oil Co. Inc. in Fort Dodge) comes from biodiesel plants owned by REG (Renewable Energy Group) and they meet industry standards (BQ9000).’’

Decker says after they got the supply problem solved, the study has been going very well.