NBB studies carbon dioxide emissions in truck fleets

By Ryan C. Christiansen | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 27, 2008 at 10:19 a.m. CST

The National Biodiesel Board is sponsoring a study to determine how much carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced and at what cost when biodiesel is used by an over-the-road truck fleet. The NBB is partnering with Indigenous Energy LLC of Oak Park, Ill., developers of the Emissiontracker emissions calculation software, and Los Angeles-based States Logistics Services Inc., a fleet and logistics company, to track emissions from a fleet of trucks during a six-month pilot study.

Using five B5-powered and two B99-powered 2007-model trucks, the States Logistics Services fleet has been running an average of 27,000 miles per month. The study, which began in May, is scheduled to end in October but could be extended to December, said Sharon Bell, trucking outreach coordinator for the NBB.

Using the Emissiontracker software, States Logistics Services is capturing the data that is calculating the fleet's carbon footprint. The data being gathered includes information about the types of vehicles used, distance traveled, the amount of fuel used, the percentage of biodiesel used in the fuel, and the feedstock used to manufacture the biodiesel. The final report will show the total carbon dioxide emitted from the biodiesel and petroleum diesel, as well as the carbon dioxide reduction gained from using biodiesel and the cost to offset petroleum carbon dioxide. So far, the trucks have saved 16.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The results of the study will be presented at the 38th Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., March 19-21, 2009.

Ultimately, the study may help biodiesel-powered fleets to apply for and sell carbon offsets. "We can use this data to show fleet owners and even individual truckers that these [carbon offsets] are valuable," Bell said. "You can sell these tons of carbon dioxide," which are expected to become more valuable over time, she said.

A 1998 biodiesel lifecycle study, jointly sponsored by the U.S. DOE and USDA, showed that biodiesel reduces net carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel, according to the NBB.

Based in Buena Park, Calif., States Logistics Services announced last October that it would begin fueling its International Class 8 trucks with B99. The trucks are equipped with Cummins ISM 425V 410 diesel engines. The company said reducing emissions was the key motivator for using biodiesel. The fleet's drivers reported that the trucks run quieter, operate more smoothly, and have cleaner exhaust. The companies' leased trucks operate on B5, based on limitations set by the leasing company.
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