Standardization News

Making Way for Biodiesel

A major revision to ASTM International's standard D396, Specification for Fuel Oils, sets performance specifications for higher amounts of biodiesel blends in conventional fuels. The new grade of B6-B20 could have a significant impact on the heating oil industry while also helping to meet growing consumer and regulatory demand for cleaner-burning low-carbon fuels. The revised standard will soon be published as D396-15a.

"At the most fundamental level, production, marketing and use of any fuel begins with knowing the physical and chemical properties needed for the fuel to work as expected in the applications or equipment it is intended for," says ASTM member Steve Howell. "This updated standard now provides that crucial information for fuel producers and sellers, equipment companies and end consumers of B6-B20 fuel oils."

Fuel oils covered by D396 are used extensively every day to heat homes and produce hot water. The fuels are also used in industrial boilers and burners.

The revised standard will have many benefits:

  • Producers will know the properties needed to produce an acceptable fuel;
  • Marketers and dealers will better understand how to identify and purchase a quality fuel to resell to their customers;
  • Equipment companies will use the fuel properties to design and optimize equipment to burn the fuel; and
  • Customers and everyday consumers will be more empowered to buy or require high quality fuels. In addition, customers will be able to test their purchases to ensure specification compliance.

Importantly, agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service could find the revised standard valuable in regulations related to fuel quality, the environment and tax policy, according to Howell, a partner in Marc-IV Consulting Inc.

D396 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee D02.E0 on Burner, Diesel, Non-Aviation Gas Turbine and Marine Fuels, which is part of ASTM International Committee D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants.

To purchase ASTM standards, visit and search by the standard designation, or contact ASTM Sales (tel +1.877.909.ASTM;

CONTACT Technical Information: Steve Howell, Marc-IV • Kearney, Mo. • tel +1.816.903.6272 | ASTM Staff: Alyson Fick • tel +1.610.832.9710 | Upcoming Meeting: June 21-25 • Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Industry Sectors:

Issue Month: 
Issue Year: