Study: Biodiesel performs as effectively as diesel

By Anna Austin | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 9, 2008 at 5:03 p.m. CST

Washington-based Propel Inc. and Essential Baking Co. recently completed a joint study which found that B99 ran as effectively, if not better, than tradition fuel when used in the baking company's fleet vehicles.

Propel builds, owns and operates a network of clean fueling points which supply B5, B20, and B99 biodiesel as well as E85.

For a 13-week period that began in January, six Essential Baking delivery vehicles were filled with B99 at a Propel Clean Fuel Point location. The vehicles, which were leased from International Leasing Co. and varied in model year and type, were driven on a variety of routes and recorded different mileages.

Jeffrey Stephens, Propel senior scientist, said Essential Baking preferred to use B99 in the vehicles rather than another blend. "Actually, they had tried running biodiesel in their vehicles in early 2007, but had some difficulties with their supplier-and in turn, stopped running on it," he said. "We went back to them and asked if they were interested to try it again, and after getting some internal specifications in place we began the project." Stephens said while the company was initially somewhat hesitant because of the previous issues, Essential Baking was completely satisfied with the end results.

During the pilot project, the temperature reached below 35 degrees Fahrenheit for 32 days of the 13 week project. None of the vehicles experienced any failures despite the cold weather, and the majority of drivers reported that the vehicles ran smoother and quieter on B99 than on petro-diesel. In total, the vehicles traveled 37,000 miles and used just under 2,500 gallons of B99.

According to Propel's study results, Essential Baking was able to reduce carbon dioxide outputs by more than 43,000 pounds and offset 1,553 gallons of oil. Additionally, production of harmful particulate matter was reduced by 78 percent, air toxics by 60 percent to 90 percent, and sulfur compounds were eliminated from the vehicles' exhausts.

Stephens said what makes Propel a unique fueling station is that it partners with existing fuel stations to put in alternative fuel pumps, avoiding restricting contracts from existing oil companies. "It's an interesting and beneficial model," he said. "Propel is able to sell their fuel, the station owner increases revenue, and consumers are allowed access to these fuels without having to drive a very long distance."

Another benefit of Propel fueling stations, according to Stephens, is a program the company has developed titled "Clean Drive" which supplies a driving report to customers who swipe a Propel credit card at the pump. "We've taken previously developed data on greenhouse gas savings and used that to develop a calculator-so you can see how many pounds of carbon dioxide for every X number of gallons you fuel up with, and how many gallons of oil you displaced," Stephens said.

Propel currently has six Clean Fuel Points in the state of Washington, which offer B5, B20, and B99. Stephens said the company is currently planning stations in California which will offer E85 and B20, some of which are being partially funded through a grant from the Sacramento Air Quality Board. Propel also plans to develop pumps in Oregon.

For more information about Propel, visit
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