General Motors Co.'s next-generation Duramax diesel engine is highly anticipated. GM revealed recently that the new engine can run on a 20% blend of biodiesel (B20).
Mike Robinson, GM's vice-president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy, said that the B20 capability in its heavy-duty trucks is the latest to an increasing number of alternate fuel options offered by General Motors.
Biodiesel -- a byproduct of mixing alcohol, animal fats or vegetable oils, and a catalyst -- actually contains no petroleum. But often, it is blended with traditional diesel fuel. For instance, 20% of B20 is biodiesel, with the remaining 80% comprised of diesel oil.
The National Biodiesel Board claims that a B20 blend can cut hydrocarbon emissions by 20%, and cut carbon monoxide and particulate matter by 12%.
The new Duramax can accept the B20 at the most but this is considered a major improvement over the current engine, which can't run anything higher than B5.
To prepare the engine for the fuel, GM will have to modify seals, fuel lines, and gaskets to tolerate the corrosive properties of the fuel. In addition, changes were made to the fuel filters. To help prevent gelling in the cold weather, the entire fuel circuit is heated.
Furthermore, Ford's new 6.7-liter Power Stroke twin-turbocharged diesel V-8, used in the new 2011 Super Duty, is also B20 compliant. Dodge offers its heavy-duty Ram with a B20-compliant version of the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo-diesel I-6; however, this is available only to commercial and fleet customers.
Later this week, we will see GM's largest full-size trucks unveiled at the 2010 Chicago auto show. We'll likely receive more specifications by then. The next-generation Duramax diesel engine will power the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD models.