I use the word biofuel in this article when referring to Bioheat® and biodiesel. Keep in mind also that Bioheat® is not to be looked upon as home heating oil replacement, but rather an enhancement. Just as an FYI, these fuels are made from soybean oil, fats and vegetable oil found in many of the restaurants that we patronize on a regular basis; McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Roy Roger’s are just a few examples. Once the products are collected, they must also go through a chemical transformation in order for it to become a biofuel.
Over the past several years I have attended lecturers on the subject of biofuel presented by representatives from both Brookhaven National Laboratory and U.S. burner manufacturers. To say the least when I heard the different blend specifications, I became somewhat dazzled as I’m sure many readers are. Today, I hear that more home heating suppliers asking about these fuels and making the decision to enter this market.
Heating oil, as I’m told, must meet ASTM D396 and biodiesel must meet ASTM D6751 before both can be blended into one. Field and lab tests have shown that a 5 percent to a 20 percent blend of biofuel provides the best for our use.
The general public seems to becoming more aware of this fuel; in 2004, there was a 27 percent awareness of it, which has grown to over 45 percent today. There are also several companies that are advertising and distributing Bioheat® fuel and most likely in your market area.
There has also been some discussion as to what effect biofuel will have on our present heating equipment. Tests have shown that this fuel will burn cleaner due to its almost zero sulfur content and reduces the time generally required to do a system tune up, which in turn will raise the level of profit for any full-service company.
You may also be wondering what your favorite burner manufacturer thinks of this new Bioheat® product passing through their burners. At another class I attended, an engineer from one of the burner manufacturers expressed his thoughts based on an actual test. The results were that Bioheat®, at low blend ranges, has no negative effects on the burner’s performance.
I have also heard questions about how the fuel might affect oil pumps’ seals and gaskets. After making a call to a leading pump manufacturer, I was told that all of these parts were functional without issue as long as the blend of Bioheat® was at 5 percent or below.
Another issue that surfaced was the effect of adding Bioheat® to an existing fuel oil storage tank that has been in service for several years? Depending on the concentration of biofuel and the blending procedure, there may be some gradual loosening of sediment in the older tanks, but not enough to cause nozzle, strainer or filter issues. Of course, there are always exceptions, again, depending on the blend.
Another concern was how would the use of Bioheat® affect a manufacturer’s warranty? Again I checked with some manufacturers, and I was told again that the 5 percent level was the key. For more information, visit www.biodiesel.org and for tax info specifically visit www.nbb.org/news/taxincentive.com, and support clean burn science.