CalTrans conducts B20 pilot project

By Susanne Retka Schill | August 03, 2007
The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) is completing a $100,000, six-month pilot project to determine the feasibility of using B20 in its fleets. If the results are favorable, the 4,500 CalTrans trucks and construction vehicles would use about 600,000 gallons of biodiesel per year. CalTrans uses 3 million gallons of regular diesel annually.

Since January, about 20 CalTrans vehicles at Indio, Calif., have been running on B20 derived mainly from recycled cooking oil. Data collection for the pilot study was concluded in July, and the information is being analyzed at the University of California, Riverside.

In announcing the project this summer, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "California is continuing to establish its leadership role in reducing its dependence on oil and greenhouse gas emissions." According to California's Office of the Governor, the study was undertaken to fully understand the benefits and drawbacks of using a new fuel before making the change statewide. Researchers gathered information such as vehicle descriptions, facility descriptions, vehicle usage, fuel costs, maintenance records and driver feedback. They will examine compatibility and warranty issues, and review the latest studies on emissions conducted elsewhere to evaluate environmental impact.

According to the Office of the Governor, biodiesel is seen as a viable choice for CalTrans because the infrastructure is already in place. Only minor, relatively inexpensive modifications would be needed before switching to B20. CalTrans has about 230 diesel fuel sites statewide.

Last year, Schwarzenegger signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020. He has also set administrative targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
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