Boats, trucks test biodiesel usage

By | October 13, 2006
Biodiesel Magazine noticed an increase in North American companies using biodiesel in fleet vehicles in the past month. A few are highlighted here.

In August, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), which operates the Orlando International Airport in Florida, announced that the airport fleet is testing B20 in 100 vehicles. These test vehicles consume about 1,000 gallons of fuel per day. "Biodiesel offers that unique blend of comparable price and quality that we were looking for," said Steve Gardner, interim executive director for the GOAA. There was no word on when the testing would conclude.

Another testing project was underway onboard Anna Desgagnés, a Transport Desgagnés Inc. multipurpose merchant vessel used to ship cargo to a number of ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, Maritime Provinces and eastern Arctic. From June to October 2006, the vessel nicknamed "BioShip" logged over 24,000 miles in three trips, during which B20 powered one of the four generators aboard, according to a project newsletter. Tests analyzed generator performance, measured emissions reduction, evaluated maintenance cost reduction, and investigated the overall potential and constraints involved in using biodiesel in marine shipping.

The single generator required over 30 million gallons of tallow-based biodiesel for the three voyages, which was supplied by Rothsay Biodiesel, a 35 million-liter-per-year (9 MMgy) producer in Quebec. The biodiesel was mixed with marine diesel at a terminal in Montreal, according to Richard Lavoie of Maritime Innovation. Lavoie's company was one of five Canadian partners in the project.

Another biodiesel project in the Great Lakes area is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Green Ship Initiative. The NOAA operates a fleet of research vessels and small boats on the Great Lakes through its Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Over the past seven years, NOAA has been exploring options to fill its research vessels that are 30 to 50 years old with renewable and environmentally friendly products as opposed to petroleum-based fuels and lubricants. By May, all three GLERL vessels had been completely converted, and they now incorporate rapeseed-based hydraulic oil for the deck crane, winches, transmission and steering gear; 100 percent soy biodiesel for engine fuel; and canola-based motor oil, according to the agency.

On a smaller scale, a San Francisco Bay cruise company called Red and White Fleet began using B20 in its four ships in August. Because there is no biodiesel fueling station in Fisherman's Wharf, the company receives biodiesel directly from Golden Gate Petroleum, according to company President Tom Escher. Golden Gate Petroleum is a biodiesel supplier affiliated with Bay Biodiesel LLC, a 5 MMgy production plant under construction. Red and White Fleet, a family-owned business since 1892, started to use biodiesel because of environmental concerns.

Up the road, Blue Sky Shipping LLC claims to be the first shipping and delivery company dedicated to transporting goods via trucks that use alternative, domestic fuels. The Crockett, Calif.-based company, which serves a 200-mile radius, uses B100 to fuel its box truck, flat-bed truck and full-size pickup truck. Charles Whitwam, who purchased Blue Sky in June, said the company was founded with the purpose of having an entire shipping fleet running on B100. "We didn't start for shipping, but to change shipping," Whitwam said.

Blue Sky makes its own biodiesel from waste vegetable oil recycled from local restaurants. Whitwam estimated that the company uses 300 gallons of biodiesel every two weeks. "We're aiming to get bigger," Whitwam said. "If we can compete with some larger companies, they're going to be forced to do something about their trucks and diesel fuel."
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