Can I just put biodiesel into my engine without any modifications?
While biodiesel in a blend of up to 20% (B20) is generally compatible with diesel engines, higher biodiesel blends present a variety of challenges in unmodified vehicles. There are numerous challenges that fleets hear about when evaluating biodiesel. Two of the most common are fuel gelling and filter plugging. Biodiesel has a higher gel point than regular diesel and thus has a tendency to solidify at a higher temperature than traditional diesel. This can cause multiple issues from non-starts to engine stalls. Another common concern is the result of the fuel’s ability to act as a solvent in a vehicle’s fuel system. When introduced in an uncontrolled manner, biodiesel can clean the existing system and dislodge pre-existing diesel contaminants, sending them downstream in the fuel system resulting in clogging of the engine’s fuel filters. In addition to these issues, modern engines are equipped with exhaust aftertreatment systems that aim to reduce tailpipe emissions (generally equipped on engines built after 2007). The components of these systems, including diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), diesel particulate filters (DPFs), and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), were not designed for biodiesel use, and can experience issues and failures as the result of biodiesel introduced to an unmodified system. If managed properly, engines without these aftertreatment systems are able to utilize higher blends of biodiesel in warmer climates. However, these older engines run into issues during cold weather usage or with parts such as pumps, hoses, and gaskets that are incompatible with biodiesel. Optimus’ patented Vector System solves all of these challenges, as it was designed to be compatible with all engines. Contact Optimus for additional details, and we can provide a full technical evaluation of your fleet’s equipment compatibility with biodiesel.
Is the Vector System compatible with all tiers of emission-controlled engines?
Is the Vector System compatible with High Pressure Common Rail injection systems?
Does the use of biodiesel or the Vector System impact my engine warranty?
No. The use of biodiesel or the installation of the Vector System does not void the manufacturer’s warranty.
The U.S. Department of Energy explains in its Biodiesel Handling & Use Guide: “Federal law prohibits the voiding of a warranty just because biodiesel was used. The biodiesel would need to be shown as the cause of the failure. If an engine experiences a failure caused by biodiesel use (or any other external condition, such as bad diesel fuel), the damage will not necessarily be covered by the Original Engine Manufacturer’s (OEM) warranty.”
If your existing engine manufacturer, dealership, or service center is discouraging use of lower-carbon fuels,
contact Optimus for assistance. We’re happy to work with your existing partners, or connect you to partners in our network who are able to support your carbon and fuel cost reduction goals.
How does biodiesel compare to electric vehicles?
Battery-powered electric trucks have not been a viable option to replace heavy-duty trucks for a number of reasons:
- A fact that most don’t recognize is that biodiesel can actually have a significantly lower carbon footprint than an electric vehicle. According to the California Air Resources Board biodiesel derived from used cooking oil has a 30% lower carbon footprint than the electric equivalent.
- Batteries are simply too heavy and expensive to meet the demands of everyday trucking. Electric trucks do not have the range and load capabilities that diesel trucks do.
- Electric vehicles are subject to long charging times, which disrupts operations and timing logistics.
- Heavy-duty trucks require significant infrastructure investments and cause excessive demand on an already aging electrical grid. These commercial trucks can’t just plug into a standard household outlet like some EV cars.
- New electric trucks have a high price point compared to upgrading an existing diesel vehicle:
The total cost of an average diesel-powered truck is about $120,000, and the vehicle can run for about 1,000 miles on a single fill-up.
In comparison, an electric semi truck with 900 miles of range would require a 2,600-kilowatt-hour battery pack that itself would cost around $420,000.
What does BXX (B20, B100, etc.) stand for?
The BXX nomenclature designates a blend of biodiesel mixed with petroleum diesel. For example, B5 represents a 5% biodiesel mix with 95% petroleum diesel. B100 is 100% biodiesel with no petroleum diesel. Optimus’ Vector System is designed to enable engines to operate on any blend from B2-B100.
Why is pure biodiesel sometimes referred to as B100 and other times as B99?
In the US, a $1.00 per gallon federal tax credit is available on all qualified mixtures of biodiesel fuel sold. This biodiesel “blenders tax credit” (BTC) is only available for biodiesel fuel that has been blended with petroleum diesel. For purposes of the BTC, biodiesel that would otherwise be used in its pure form (B100) is blended with .01% diesel fuel to ensure it is eligible for these credits. For all non-tax purposes, B100 and B99 are utilized interchangeably.
Does Optimus sell biodiesel?
No. Optimus Technologies is not a fuel supplier, but we work closely with many of the major biodiesel manufacturers of North America, including REG, ADM, and World Energy. We can help you source biodiesel for your fleet with our growing network of partners across the United States.
Where can I source biodiesel? Is it available at retail locations?
B100 can be sourced at the wholesale level from biodiesel refineries and petroleum terminals located throughout the country. Tanker and railcar loads are available for delivery on-site to any fleet location in the lower 48 states through Optimus’ fuel partner network.
Biodiesel blends from B2–B20 are widely available at most travel centers and commercial refueling stations. B100 is not as widely available, but Optimus will work with you to ensure you have a reliable source to serve your fleet.
How does the pricing of biodiesel compare to diesel?
Optimus works with its fuel partner network to ensure that biodiesel prices are comparable or even discounted when compared to conventional diesel. Classified as a low-carbon fuel, biodiesel is eligible for a number of tax credits and discounts offered at the state and federal level to incentivize organizations to use clean fuels. Fleets in many regions of the U.S. are able to take advantage of these incentives to significantly reduce their fleet’s fuel costs.
You can search for local and federal incentives through the U.S. Department of Energy
Contact Optimus for direct pricing.
Does biodiesel take more energy to make than it gives back?
No. Biodiesel has one of the highest “energy balances” of any liquid fuel. For every unit of fossil energy it takes to make biodiesel, 5.5 units of energy are gained. This takes into account the planting, harvesting, fuel production and fuel transportation to the end user.
What kind of state incentives are available?
Many states have incentives to encourage the use of biodiesel, and Optimus and its partner network can help you find incentives specific to your region. For example, Oregon and California have implemented a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which provides a pricing rule that incentivizes low-carbon fuels. As biodiesel is the lowest-carbon replacement for diesel, its LCFS discount can be well over $.50 per gallon. Other states, such as Texas, exempt biodiesel blends from state taxes, which results in a $.20 per gallon tax abatement when using B100.
Can I buy a new truck with the Vector System pre-installed?
Yes! Optimus can work with you to coordinate the process with your dealer and manufacturer. Many companies include the Vector System in their vehicle specifications during the bidding process. Optimus provides a ship-through code to the build order and works alongside specialty equipment manufacturers to facilitate the installation process. The ship-through code enables coordination with the manufacturer, dealer, and transportation company to ensure the Vector System is installed at the appropriate stage in the manufacturing process and ensure a seamless integration into the overall build and equipment outfitting process.
Is there additional maintenance that is needed after the Vector System is installed?
The Vector System is designed to avoid disruptions to routine maintenance schedules. Technicians will service the vehicle almost identically to a conventional diesel system, with minor differences. For instance, in addition to a conventional diesel fuel filter the Optimus system also equips the engine with a dedicated biodiesel filter which would need serviced at the same interval as a conventional filter. Optimus can work with your fleet to determine the best maintenance package for your fleet from a variety of options including comprehensive training for in-house technicians, referral to one of our partners in our network of certified service centers, or providing direct service from our team of mobile technicians.
Doesn't biodiesel gel in cold weather?
Biodiesel does solidify in colder weather, but the Vector System bi-fuel solution ensures that vehicles will reliably operate in any temperature. The System always starts and shuts down on traditional diesel, switching to biodiesel only after certain operating conditions are met. Waste heat from the engine is redirected to a series of heat exchangers and heated filter assembly to bring the biodiesel to a suitable temperature, which eliminates any problems with even the harshest winter weather conditions.
What happens if I can't get biodiesel?
The Vector System is designed to be completely compatible with a range of fuels, from B0 (traditional diesel) all the way up to B100. In a scenario when B100 isn’t available, drivers simply refuel with either conventional diesel or any biodiesel blend and the system would operate normally.
How does the fuel economy, performance, etc. compare to diesel?
In comparison to traditional diesel, research suggests that biodiesel performs either very similarly or slightly better, depending on the metric. While diesel has a higher energy density, biodiesel’s higher cetane rating indicates that B100 offers a slight boost in performance. This increased performance essentially offsets the lower density of the cleaner fuel.
Additionally, modern diesel engines are required to have a series of exhaust filters to capture particulate emissions. Diesel engines are taxed with more work to push exhaust through these systems, which decreases performance. Cleaner burning biodiesel avoids these issues, as the reduction in emissions means significantly less restrictions on the exhaust filtering systems.
How much does the Vector System cost?
The Vector System cost varies based on a vehicle’s unique specifications, engine, and any unique needs of your fleet.
Contact us, and we will work with you on a customized solution to meet your specific goals and requirements.
Can you install the technology on X equipment?
While the Vector System can potentially be installed on any diesel engine, it is primarily designed for fleet applications. For general fleet applications, Optimus currently requires a minimum installation of at least five units. For any questions regarding suitability, get in touch with us here.
Will there be any disruptions to day-to-day operations? To my drivers?
No, the Vector System is designed to avoid any disruptions to your day-to-day operations and driver conduct.
How much does the Vector System weigh?
The Vector System’s dry weight is roughly 75–100 pounds. In addition to the system the total added weight is dependent on the volume of additional fuel stored onboard. Simply put, the volume of additional fuel is the largest factor in assessing the total additional weight.
Some states do offer weight limit exemptions for trucks that have equipment upgrades to reduce their emission output, which will offset this additional weight.
Contact us to find out what kinds of exemptions may be available for your fleet.
What does B100 do to the fuel system and aftertreatment system after extended use?
Biodiesel is cleaner burning and more lubricating than traditional diesel, and reduces wear and tear on the engine by lowering carbon deposits and soot generated. Modern diesel engines with particulate filters will experience 40–60% less soot collecting on the filter, which lowers the backpressure and overall amount of work the engine is required to do in expelling the exhaust.
Is the Vector System transferable across vehicles?
Generally, no. While it may be possible to transfer between vehicles of similar makes and models, different vehicles will usually require different installation components and methods.