Abraham Esparza
Director General Mexico
Biofuel
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View from the Top

Blending into Efficient Biodiesel Practices

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 13:01

Q: To what extent has biodiesel penetrated the Mexican market?

A: Biodiesel blends have not spread in Mexico the way they should, since national production has not been of the best quality due to certifications. However, many countries worldwide are using it more in cars, trucks and buses. The US is increasingly using biodiesel as many states such as California heavily regulate CO2 emissions. Many US truck service stations in large cities have pumps that contain 5-20 percent biodiesel and a significant number of US operators favor its superior performance.

Mexican truck operators must refuel in the US and are therefore using biodiesel blends without noticing but the penetration of biodiesel blends into the Mexican market has been slow because of misconceptions about the fuel. Many wrongly believe that it clogs engine filters. Biodiesel actually cleans diesel residues in tubes and although these can accumulate in filters and clog them this can be prevented with a simple filter change.

Q: What are the main advantages that biodiesel offers over regular diesel?

A: Biodiesel blends emit lower gas levels throughout the vehicle’s usable life and have greater performance. A major soda company tested a 30 percent blend and found it enhanced performance 7-11 percent. Biodiesel blends also have low sulfur content, an added advantage for engine valves, improving performance and durability.

Most manufacturers in the US recommend the use of a 20 percent (B20) biodiesel blend. US carriers have promoted the use of biodiesel blends for the past 10 years, as approximately 70 percent of trucks can use up to B20. Some trucks can even use 99 percent but this is rare and would require several engine modifications that are unnecessary for blends with smaller biodiesel content.

Q: What differentiates the diesel you commercialize from others in the market?

A: Our biodiesel blends have higher quality than any other manufactured in Mexico. Fifty-two percent of it is imported and the other 48 percent is manufactured here. Such quality is thanks to our experienced R&D department. At this point, diesel in Mexico is mainly produced with a sulfur content of 500ppm as next to no national refineries have the capacity to reduce sulfur levels to under 15ppm. Though diesel with 500ppm would not be accepted north of the border, only Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara have access to low-sulfur diesel.

Q: How can you generate awareness in Mexico about the advantages of biodiesel blends?

A: It is necessary to create a culture that protects the environment and encourages the use of biodiesel. We must also generate awareness of the volume of CO2 emissions generated by trucks and their environmental impact. We see reticence among transport companies. Many people still have a negative perception of biodiesel, unaware that it is simply an ultra-low sulfur diesel. Through tests and demonstrations, we are gradually shattering these misconceptions. We performed a series of tests for a large carrier that operates long, international distances. The carrier was fearful of the damage biodiesel might cause its brand-new equipment. We convinced the client that biodiesel would have no negative impact on its equipment and over time, the client noticed the trucks used increasingly less fuel during trips.

We are developing proposals for two major companies with extremely large and complex logistics processes. These companies are also dependent on public perception, in which sustainability practices and an environmental process play an essential part. Large companies are realizing that biodiesel blends are cheaper and that environmental gains are significant in Mexico. We did a study for a large beer company and proved it could have reduced its CO2 emissions by 17 percent in 2015 only by using B20. Biodiesel is gaining popularity as an alternative fuel especially in light of the environmental problems that Mexico City is facing. To address these problems, President Enrique Peña Nieto generated legislation targeting a reduction in CO2 pollution of 30 percent by 2030. We believe that biodiesel blends will be used with increasing frequency to tackle air pollution.