Today, biodiesel is the fastest-growing biofuel in the U.S. thanks in part to soybean checkoff-funded efforts aimed at ensuring biodiesel quality. As a result, more and more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) approve the use of biodiesel blends in their engines. Last year, the U.S. military used over 10 million gallons of biodiesel blends, and, in October 2005, the American Trucking Associations announced its endorsement of B5, a 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum diesel blend. Dozens of school districts throughout the country also use cleaner-burning, renewable biodiesel blends. Even President Bush announced a proposal in his Jan. 31 State of the Union address that includes $150 million for additional research of biobased fuels derived from agricultural products.

To help ensure biodiesel quality, the soybean checkoff-funded National Biodiesel Board (NBB) formed the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC), which developed and implemented a voluntary industry quality-control program known as BQ-9000. The program seeks to educate biodiesel producers and marketers on biodiesel quality standards established by NBAC. The program also seeks to boost consumer confidence to ensure continued growth and acceptance of biodiesel.

Quality standards in the BQ-9000 program are based on the American Standard for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D-6751 Specification for Biodiesel Fuel (B100, 100 percent biodiesel) Blend Stock for Distillate Fuels. ASTM specifications are used to ensure the quality standards of petroleum diesel, gasoline and even ethanol. Americans rely on these specifications every day and now that same confidence can be found in biodiesel carrying the ASTM D-6751 standard.

BQ-9000 is open to all current or future producers, distributors and commercial sellers or resellers of biodiesel in B100 form or for use in blended form. Only companies that have strict quality control practices that will help ensure biodiesel meets the ASTM D-6751 specification are recognized under BQ-9000 as deserving of an Accredited Producer or Certified Marketer title.

To achieve BQ-9000 accreditation, applicants must undergo a comprehensive audit, which includes a detailed review of the applicant's quality system documentation. This audit also verifies current Environmental Protection Agency Registration and that the applicant's facilities are acceptable to uphold ASTM D-6751 specifications. Once the audit process is complete, a two-year accreditation is awarded. After the two-year period, recertification is required.

"We strongly encourage all biodiesel manufacturers to become accredited by participating in the BQ-9000 program," says NBB Chairman Darryl Brinkmann, a soybean farmer from Carlyle, IL. "This will help ensure fuel quality and the great engine performance that I and the millions of other diesel users have come to expect from biodiesel."

Biodiesel has increased performance characteristics over petroleum-based diesel. B2 biodiesel has shown to increase engine lubricity 66 percent, which could lessen engine wear and prolong engine life. Biodiesel is also safer to store and handle. The Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Energy provide in-depth information on biodiesel as well as a complete guide to safely handling, storing and using biodiesel. The guide also provides information on the ASTM D-6751 specifications for biodiesel.

For more information on the soybean checkoff, visit www.unitedsoybean.org. Find out more about NBB and the BQ-9000 program at www.biodiesel.org.