In May, Minnesota became the first state to blend 5% biodiesel into its diesel fuel. While experience has shown biodiesel blends can perform well in cold weather, questions continue to be asked about cold-weather performance.

As winter approaches, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce are offering a technical guide designed to help biodiesel users avoid problems. The guide was prepared by independent experts working with the Technical Cold Weather Issues Team set up by the two agencies to study the issues related to biodiesel and cold-temperature use.

“Biodiesel performs just fine at cold temperatures, but like any fuel blend, it requires proper handling and storage, and engines using it require proper maintenance and handling,” MDA's Ralph Groschen says. “We want to make sure people have the information they need to avoid problems.”

One topic discussed in the guide is the importance of keeping water out of fuel storage tanks. When temperatures drop, water can freeze to form ice crystals that plug fuel filters. A recent test of fuel and filters revealed that nearly half of all problems identified could be tied to water intrusion.

Get a copy of the guide.