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September/October 2010

D6751 and BQ-9000

ASTM Standard Is Centerpiece of Biodiesel Accreditation Program

ASTM International standards — particularly D6751, Specification for Biodiesel Fuel Blend Stock (B100) for Middle Distillate Fuels — are the backbone of BQ-9000, an accreditation program created by the National Biodiesel Board for producers, marketers and laboratories.

BQ-9000 combines D6751 with a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution and fuel management practices.

As noted on its website (, the goals of BQ-9000 are to:

  • Promote the commercial success and public acceptance of biodiesel; and
  • Help assure that biodiesel fuel is produced to and maintained at the industry standard, D6751.

Steve Howell, president of MARC-IV Consulting, Kearny, Mo., and chairman of the biodiesel task group in ASTM Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, says that the needs of three separate entities led to the development of ASTM D6751, which was originally known as PS121 and was officially approved as a standard by Committee D02 in 2002.

According to its scope, D6751 “prescribes the required properties of diesel fuels at the time and place of delivery.”

“Regulators wanted a spec to enforce against, customers wanted a spec to ensure quality of the fuel they were buying and engine companies wanted a spec to ensure that fuel wasn’t going to cause engine damage,” says Howell.

Howell notes the value that D6751 has brought to the development and increased use of biodiesel fuel. “An ASTM standard for biodiesel is a very cost-effective way to facilitate the buying and selling of fuel,” says Howell. “It takes effort and resources to secure consensus agreement on a standard, but the real value of having an ASTM standard is that people who want to sell the product know what spec they need to make it to, and people who want to buy the product know that the product they’re getting meets the spec. Having D6751 facilitates commerce.”

According to Howell, while D6751 is the primary biodiesel standard, other ASTM specifications integral to BQ-9000 include D975, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils; D7467, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oil, Biodiesel Blend (B6 to B20); and D396, Specification for Fuel Oils. Plus, each of these specifications provides a list of ASTM test methods needed to meet the property requirements enumerated in the specification.

While the BQ-9000 program had been open to producers and marketers of biodiesel, it has recently expanded to include laboratories. The first BQ-9000 accredited lab, the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was established in order to place Iowa as a leader in the realm of biodiesel analysis.

“We have several more companies that are in the process of becoming certified as well, and we anticipate that we’ll see many more BQ-9000 certified laboratories in the future,” says Howell. In addition to other requirements, laboratories that want to attain BQ-9000 accreditation must participate in proficiency testing through either the ASTM Interlaboratory Crosscheck Program on biodiesel or the Alberta Research Council’s International Quality Assurance Exchange Program on biodiesel.

Howell says that biodiesel is the first in a new wave of renewable fuels and that ASTM will be leading the way in standardizing them.

“ASTM has set the stage with biodiesel and is in the process of developing standards for all the other new fuels that are coming down the pike,” says Howell. “Biodiesel is just the first of many new renewable fuels, and ASTM will be actively supporting the standards needs for all of these new fuels.”