Letters from You - May 2019

Hi Pat,

Are you familiar with, or have any first hand knowledge with Renewable Diesel? This is not the bio-diesel of old but a new refinery product that meets ASTM 975, with many attractive benefits.

I would appreciate your take on the subject. I understand Berkeley, and Pittsburg marina are now dispensing the product, as well as many cities around the bay.

Kind regards,
Don Murray


What a great question. Renewable diesel, also referred to as green diesel, has been available in California since 2015, so really it is not new. Renewable diesel and bio-diesel are NOT the same although both fuels are derived from nonpetroleum renewable resources such as waste agricultural products. The difference is in the processing where renewable diesel is processed in a similar manner as petroleum diesel and the results are chemically the same.

My real experience with the product is that several of the Bay Area Ferry companies changed over to 100% renewable diesel more than a year ago. As an operator I have noticed significantly less exhaust emissions from the boats and have not seen any change in performance. I asked the Director of Fleet Engineering at Red & White Fleet, Dan Johnson, what the verdict is after more than a year of use and am told there have been no negative effects and they have seen an improvement in fuel economy and a reduction in maintenance costs. For boats that burn around 2,000 gallons per week any cost reduction would be welcomed.

Dan also tells me that that since renewable diesel meets the ASTM D975 industry specification for diesel fuel it can be used in any engine that uses diesel fuel and it is covered under the manufacturer′s warranty. Of course renewable diesel is slightly more costly than diesel fuel to produce but the California governments Low Carbon Fuel Standards offset most of the extra cost.

Pat H

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