For those of you unfamiliar with the Safeway brand, they are a large chain of Foodstores that decided to pump fuel some years back. They also made the decision to get on the biofuels bandwagon early, and they were one of the few stations pumping B20 when some manufactures were warning that anything more than B5 could terminate your vehicle’s warranty.
At the time they were pumping B20, there were researchers reporting that lipids in plant oils like those in Soy could vary quite a bit from crop to crop, and they believed the Soy based products >could< act differently in the fuel tank and the combustion chamber depending on the crop.
With that said, I witnessed and reported two trucks with plugged filters, we took the filters apart to see what was going on. In our two filters we found materials that had dropped out of the fuel and appeared to jell, it kind of reminded me of how linseed oil dries to a gummy substance when you slop on more than can soak into the wood fiber. This happened here in the NorthWest at temperatures near freezing. (not all that cold). Of added interest (to me at least) another diesel enthusiast here in the NorthWest reported there were about seven vehicles that had clogged filters according to emails amongst enthusiasts.
An interesting report came from the Midwest where it was very cold, and Soy based B20 was performing with zero troubles at much lower temperatures.
At the time (late 2008) there were people warning not to use bio-fuel Diesel period. Due to the reports from researchers and the lubricity improvement over current diesel fuel, I decided to keep using Safeway B5 and see how it performed compared to the B20.
Since I don’t commute, my travels are limited, and it has taken a long time to reach an additional 15,000 miles on my diesel pickup. In that period of time, we have had temperatures in the single digits, and temperatures at or near 100F. I pulled my Napa Gold filter and sawed off both ends so I could fully open the pleated material and inspect it. I could find no sign of gumming. Another thing I noted about this filter is the light color of the media, I expected it to be much darker.
I’m reporting on fuel dispensed in the Puget Sound Area, we know blenders in other areas could provide something different for Safeway, but for the moment, I find their prices slightly better on average, and I do believe there are benefits to running between one percent and five percent bio-fuel in modern diesel engines. Yes, we know the Lister CS and other slow speed diesels love bio-fuels, but the EPA doesn’t see it our way.