Did biodiesel mandates leave kids stranded in Minnesota?

This is not a laughing matter, especially when the cold flow performance is a known issue. Some blends of biodiesel do not perform well in cold temperatures and can turn to jello. I’m not certain if this was the case in Minnesota, but I do know mandating biodiesel brings in a certain level of complexity to the situation that I’m not smart enough to understand.

Hat tip goes to Minnesota resident Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air. Here is a chunk of the story from the StarTrib. Kids were actually treated for mild hypothermia when some school buses failed to get the kids to school or even pick them up.

Rick Kaufman, the district’s spokesman, said elements in the biodiesel fuel that turn into a gel-like substance at temperatures below 10 degrees clogged about a dozen district buses Thursday morning. Some buses weren’t able to operate at all and others experienced problems while picking up students, he said.

“We had students at bus stops longer than we think is acceptable, and that’s too dangerous in these types of temperatures,” Kaufman said.

About 50 of the district’s 10,000 students were affected. Some waited at bus stops for up to 30 minutes; others were stuck on stalled buses.

When I first saw this story, I questioned if it was the biodiesel or the blend of biodiesel used. Certainly they must have certain additives (chemical) to prevent the stuff from freezing up. After about 10 minutes of research, it looks like there is a balance between better cold flow and longer storage time. In other words, if you buy the stuff with the best cold flow performance, you best use the stuff up quick.

This reminds me of the problems everyone is having with their lawn mowers and small engines. The new fuel blends – all government mandated – were reeking havoc on powered lawn tools. The gasoline, if not used quickly, seems to turn to varnish.

I know, I’ve ripped apart at least three or four carburetors in the past couple of years.

Enough amateur science for the day. If you’re interested in reading more, click on the image below.


3 replies
  1. Rick-WH
    Rick-WH says:

    While this can also happen with conventional diesel fuels, there are tried and true chemical additives that can be and are  routinely added (at relatively nominal cost) which reduce that risk significantly.   This can ever occur with home heating oil (essentially diesel fuel) if the tank is outside and above ground.  Unlike bio diesel, there is no reported adverse impact on "shelf life" if the additives are put in conventional diesel or home heating oil.

    Where will the raw materials for bio diesel come from when fried foods are banned?

  2. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    As a long time user of Diesel (I capitalize the word, as it is actually taken from the proper name of Dr. Rudolf Diesel, and as such, should be capitalized, like the Miller, Wankel, Stanley or Cummins engines), I can tell you that, yes, the formation of paraffin crystals or waxing, which clogs filters and pumps, is an issue with Diesel engines in anything below about 32 deg. Fahrenheit.  The refineries usually cut the Diesel fuel with kerosene in the winter to winterize it as needed in the regions where it will be sold and based on projected weather trends, and there are additives.  Veggie Diesel is known to wax at relatively high temps, but is dependent on the mix with petroleum based Diesel (B10 -20 should be useable).

    They should have seen it coming, especially with the deep freeze.

  3. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    "Where will the raw materials for bio diesel come from when fried foods are banned?"

    I suggest Oprah's next cycle of thinness….

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