Biodiesel now cheaper than petrodiesel here!

Discussion in 'Diesel powered automobiles' started by WriConsult, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Yep, it's true. As we pulled up to the biodiesel pump to fill up the Golf, my wife noticed that the seasonal switch from B50 to B99 had already happened. BAD IDEA because even on the valley floors we're a long way from being free of the risk of freezing temps yet (and in fact, it is expected to freeze tonight). B50 is generally OK for our winter wx but B99 will not cut it below freezing. My wife's an on-call doc and canNOT risk having her car not start in the morning because of gelled fuel.

    So we filled the tank halfway with biodiesel at $3.699, and then drove over to the other pump and topped off with "regular" diesel at $3.899. I only remember this happening once before -- briefly -- about 3 years ago.
  2. milocyrus

    milocyrus New Member

    It's good that you have choices. I like to go half and half myself, too just to be safe.
  3. 2RR2NV

    2RR2NV Ultimate Newbie

    if i ever get the land i want, i'll just make my own at $1/gal or a lil bit more. but good to see there are options out there. thank you Willy Nelson!! :)
  4. npauli

    npauli Well-Known Member

    I thought bio has been cheaper for the last few years, thanks to the $1/gal federal subsidy. Around here most pumps have an undisclosed blend between B5 and B15, and you have to pay about a couple dimes more at the few stations that sell pure petrodiesel. I guess I assumed the trend would continue and B99 would be the cheapest option - maybe low volume keeps the price high?
  5. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    The mostly-petro blends may well be cheaper some places because they're subsidized relative to pure petro, but the mostly-bio blends almost never have been historically. Probably because the actual biodiesel is still a niche, low-volume product and (maybe?) costs more to make at most times.

    The last time B99 was cheaper was during the 2008 energy spike. Only lasted a few weeks, and in response to the spike in diesel prices many local fleets (public and private, including all the major utilities and our bus system) implemented B5 mandates all at the same time. This huge new demand overwhelmed the (then much smaller) available supply, pushing biodiesel to $5-6/gal for quite a few months. Fortunately since then we've had a dramatic increase in local refining capacity, so my fingers are crossed that B99 won't spike this time.
  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Dan:

    My fingers are crossed on this as well. Bio is so much more sustainable and even at 5%, I can support it wholeheartedly vs. that #*@+ called Ethanol for 97% of the other cars we own and drive today.

  7. 50 mpg by 2012

    50 mpg by 2012 Well-Known Member

    A regional biodiesel coop has been profitable since diesel was $2/gallon.

    Of course the selling of "bio credits" helped. I am not certain whether they still exist ...

    However, in the face of constrained supply ... the coop always has charge between 10¢ and 30¢ above petro diesel prices as a matter of policy.
  8. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    BTW, biodiesel is once again cheaper than petrodiesel here. B99 has held steady at $3.99 since the middle of last year, but petrodiesel (actually B5 here, per state law) has been above $4 for quite some time now.
  9. Thomas99

    Thomas99 Banned

    The present B99 price in San Diego is $4.25
  10. 50 mpg by 2012

    50 mpg by 2012 Well-Known Member

    There is a coop here in NC that has been profitable since diesel was under$2/gallon.

    I have not talked to them in a while (since I don't own a diesel).

    But, the last time I discussed their pricing strategy with them, they generally jumped their price about 7% above petro-diesel and when petro-diesel climbed within 2% they increased their price again.

    This pricing policy was implimented to avoid depletion of their bio inventory by opportunists as diesel prices spiked.

    Today my benchmark NC station increased both gasoline and diesel to $3.899 and $4.059 respectively from $3.859 and $3.999 over the weekend. There is an extra 7¢ or 8¢/gallon tax on diesel in NC. Regardless, diesel is about the same price as Plus.

    It is not uncommon for this station to change pricing few +/-¢s several time/day.
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    If only the new turbo diesel engines emissions controls (DPF) allowed a higher percentage Bio mix :ccry:

  12. CRT1

    CRT1 Newbie McNewbster

    What is the ratio limit on the new engines?

    What do the B99 guys do when the weather gets cold? What is the resonalble and safe lowest temperature you can run that stuff at?
  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi CRT1:

    Some modern diesel emissions systems limit Bio to B5 while others allow B20. The HD trucks are all now B20 capable.

    B99 gels just a few degrees above freezing at which point it becomes useless so its something any diesel owner has to be very concerned with. Then again Diesel a is an improvement over diesel b in term so gelling resistance in cold weather and mandatory for colder climates in the winter months.

    Maybe Mike or Dan can give us the lowdown on the Diesel a and b differences in terms of energy content, cetane and pour points before I go look it up myself ;)

  14. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Diesel #1 is very similar kerosene. Good resistance to gelling but poor lubricity properties which kills the high pressure injection system.

    Diesel #2 is what all the on-road diesels that I know of need. In colder temperatures, it is prone to gelling. I have read that winter diesel #2 blends actually contain some diesel #1 to prevent gelling.
  15. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I can't speak too much about #1 vs #2 ... I think around here it's almost always #2.

    As far as B99 goes, it will gel as you get down into the lower 30s. In our climate we get down a few degrees +/- freezing quite a bit, so our local pumps carry B50 from November through March, instead of B99.

    We have had our fuel gel on a couple of occasions when we'd bought B99 in October and the tank lasted us well into November (easy to do, since a tank can be good for 600+ miles), then it got down around freezing and we couldn't start the car in the morning.

    With B50 we've had no trouble starting in temps down to the upper teens. That's as cold as it ever gets here, so I don't know the lower limit for B50. I suspect that if you're in a "real winter" climate where it can get to the single digits or colder, you'd probably want to limit yourself to B20 in the dead of winter.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  16. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Manitoba has a mandate for 2% biodiesel. I think it was set at that as it is expected that the blend will range from B5 in summer to B0 in winter, averaging around B2.

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