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.