Biodiesel fuel quality standard

About the biodiesel fuel quality standard

The Fuel Standard (Biodiesel) Determination 2003 defines biodiesel as ‘a diesel fuel obtained by esterification of oil derived from plants or animals’. Put simply, it is a fuel derived from plant and/or animal matter rather than petroleum sources.

Internationally, biodiesel is used as a transport fuel in its own right (known as B100) or in blends with petroleum diesel. Most common blends used are 5% biodiesel (B5) and 20% biodiesel (B20).

Establishing a fuel standard for biodiesel

The department has developed an Australian fuel standard for biodiesel as part of its responsibilities under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000. The Australian Government aims to set fuel quality standards that allow for optimum vehicle and environmental performance.

The process to set a biodiesel standard commenced in 2002, with the appointment of a consultant to produce a technical paper on biodiesel. The paper covered the production and use of biodiesel as a transport fuel in Australia and its impacts on vehicle emissions and engine operation.

The technical paper was used to form the basis of the National Standard for Biodiesel - Discussion Paper 6. The objective of the discussion paper was to inform stakeholders and generate comment on setting a standard for biodiesel.

Following consideration of the submissions received on the biodiesel discussion paper, the Australian Government developed a Draft Standard for Biodiesel.

The biodiesel fuel quality standard

The biodiesel standard is summarised in the following table. The legal instrument implementing the standard is:

Biodiesel standard
Parameter Standard Test Method Date of effect
Sulfur 50 mg/kg (max)
10 mg/kg (max)
ASTM D5453 18 Sep 2003
1 Feb 2006
Density 860 to 890 kg/m3 ASTM D1298 18 Sep 2003
Distillation T90 360C (max) ASTM D1160 18 Sep 2003
Sulfated ash 0.020% mass (max) ASTM D874 18 Sep 2003
Viscosity 3.5 to 5.0 mm 2 /s @ 40°C ASTM D445 18 Sep 2003
Flashpoint 120.0°C (min) ASTM D93 18 Sep 2003
Carbon residue
(10% distillation residue)
0.30% mass (max) ASTM D4530 18 Sep 2003
Water and sediment 0.050% vol (max) ASTM D2709 18 Sep 2003
Ester content 2 96.5% (m/m) (min) EN 14103 18 Sep 2003
Phosphorus 10 mg/kg (max) EN 14107 18 Sep 2003
Acid value 0.80 mg KOH/g (max) ASTM D664 18 Sep 2003
Total contamination 24 mg/kg (max) EN 12662 18 Sep 2004
Free glycerol 0.020% mass (max) ASTM D6584 18 Sep 2004
Total glycerol 0.250% mass (max) ASTM D6584 18 Sep 2004
Oxidation stability 6 hours @ 110°C (min) EN 14112
prEN 15751
18 Sep 2004
Metals ≤ 5mg/kg Group I (Na, K)
≤ 5mg/kg Group II (Ca, Mg)
EN 14538
(Group I)
EN 14538
(Group II)
18 Sep 2004
Methanol Content ≤ 0.20% (m/m) EN 14110 18 Dec 2004
Copper strip corrosion (3 hrs @ 50°C) if the biodiesel contains no more than
10 mg/kg of sulfur - Class 1 (max)

if the biodiesel contains more than
10 mg/kg of sulfur - No. 3 (max)
EN ISO 2160

18 Dec 2004
Cetane number or Derived cetane number 51.0 (min) ASTM D613
ASTM D6890
18 Sep 2005

2 If biodiesel contains C-17 methyl esters, the ester content may be measured by using the modified procedure set out in S.Schober, I.Seidl and M. Mittelbach, Ester content evaluation in biodiesel from animal fats and lauric oils, European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 108 (2006) 309-314.

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Management of biodiesel blends

In September 2005 the Prime Minister released the report of the Biofuels Taskforce and announced a package of measures to help address market barriers and restore consumer confidence in the biofuels industry.

Among these measures the Prime Minister announced that the Government would work with Australian fuels and transport industries to establish standard forms of biodiesel to provide certainty to the market. The objective of this discussion paper was to seek stakeholder comment on management options for standardising diesel/biodiesel blended fuels.

Position paper - proposed management of diesel/biodiesel blends

The Australian Government released a position paper on the preferred management approach to diesel/biodiesel blends to help provide certainty to consumers and industry. The position paper was open for public comment until 31 March 2008. The objective of the paper was to seek stakeholder comment on the position prior to amending the relevant legislation.

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The information contained on this page is of a general nature only and should be read in conjunction with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001, and the Fuel Standard (Biodiesel) Determination 2003. Fuel suppliers may wish to seek legal advice about their obligations under this legislation.