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Biodiesel Cold Weather Properties - How to overcome them

There is nothing worse that being stuck in your vehicle. But thankfully being stuck because of biodiesel cold weather properties is avoidable. This is quite an important issue in colder climates - especially in winter.


The scale of the problem is very dependent on the material that the biodiesel is made from. As an example an oil like Palm Oil has poor cold weather characteristics and can freeze solid at 20 deg C. Biodiesel made from it typically has problems below 8 degrees C. This would be fine in Africa but in Europe it would be a major problem.

biodiesel car in the snow

It is important to work within the limits of the fuel you make or use. In winter it is possible to blend the biodiesel with kerosene or diesel. The weaker the blend of biodiesel the better the cold properties would be. It sort of averages out with the cold properties of the blend material. A B20 blend or less is usually recommended in very cold climates in winter.

In some areas you cannot use biodiesel at all without installing a heating system on the fuel lines. Obviously if you modify your vehicle in this manner then you could just about use any feedstock material to make your biodiesel.

You could call these types of vehicles biodiesel cars as they have been adapted specially to run biodiesel. It is hard to find this sort of modification outside cold countries. Volkswagen produced vehicles of this type for sale in Europe and the US.

One way of working out your biodiesel cold weather problem temperature is to have it tested in a lab. The lab will test for the cold filter plug point. This is the point at which it will block up your fuel filter. Once this happens you will need to wait for the fuel system to warm up before you can go anywhere.

I remember leaving my Truck outside one winters evening. In the morning I had to push it into the garage and heat the engine to get it to start. It wasn't until 11am that I managed to start it!

You can also test your biodiesel yourself. Put it in the refrigerator and wait for it to start clouding. This is the temperature around which you will have a problem. This is a useful technique as as you can test various blends of fuel and come up with a plan for winter.

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