Numerous and varied fleets choosing biodiesel

By | June 01, 2005
Springtime is the season for growth, and this spring it's biodiesel use that is growing. Many diesel-powered fleets are choosing to switch to a new, cleaner-burning fuel in biodiesel. The following are just some of the fleets moving to the renewable fuel:

Approximately 100 of Fort Collins, Colo.'s city buses and other diesel-burning vehicles are using B20. Ken Mannon, operations services director, said this year the city will use approximately 80,000 gallons of biodiesel supplied by Blue Sun Biodiesel. Mannon said next year the entire city fleet of more than 400 vehicles will be converted to biodiesel.

The Mountain Line in Missoula, Mont., started using B20 in its entire fleet of buses April 15, according to General Manager Steve Earle. The transportation service tested biodiesel for the last three years in paratransit buses. The 26 buses use approximately 10,000 gallons of fuel per month and travel about 650,000 miles per year while carrying 700,000 passengers.
A variety of six city vehicles in Moncton, New Brunswick, will be using B20 biodiesel in a pilot project that is expected to last into the winter.

Ian Wilson, president of Wilson Fuels in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is supplying the fuel. It is fish oil-based biodiesel produced as a byproduct by Ocean Nutrition Canada. Wilson said he sells approximately 1 million gallons of B100 annually. Nearby Halifax, Nova Scotia, uses the same fuel in its bus fleet.

Santa Monica, Calif., is using B20 in 80 of its heavy-duty vehicles and equipment as part of a pilot project. Rick Sikes, fleet operations manager, said if the switch to B20 goes well, city officials would consider using B100. The equipment is used to help maintain the city's beaches and streets.

The Illinois Clean School Bus Program is helping Chicago-area school districts make the switch to biodiesel. Earlier this year, the Chicago School Transit became the first school bus service in the Chicago Metropolitan Area to use soy-based biodiesel. Expected to follow the fleet are 14 other fleets owned and operated by Cook-Illinois Corp., which operates 1,400 buses in more than 15 Chicago area communities. Frankfort, Ill.-based BioEnergy Supply LLC is distributing the biodiesel.

The Illinois EPA awarded the Illini-Bluffs School District 327 funding to install seven diesel oxidation catalysts and fund 16 buses for biodiesel. The funding was also part of the Illinois Clean School Bus grants.

According to Susan Schooley of Western Economic Diversification Canada, biodiesel is being used in a wide variety of vehicles in six British Columbia municipalities. Vancouver, Richmond, Whistler, Delta, Burnaby and North Vancouver will use up to 80 million liters (21 million gallons) of biodiesel in the next five years. It's expected to be the largest biodiesel demonstration project in Canada.

Flint Energies, a Georgia-based rural electric membership cooperative, is now using B20 in its fleet of diesel-powered vehicles. Larry Pearce, vice president of fleet and materials management, instituted the program after testing biodiesel in a company pickup earlier this year. Approximately 69 vehicles in Warner Robins and Reynolds, Ga., use biodiesel purchased from Davis Oil Co. "We're pleased with it so far," Pearce said. "As far as performance, there has been no change. Pearce said environmental concerns and supporting the area farmers were reasons to use biodiesel. "We'd rather grow it than import it," he said, referring to the fuel. The vehicles range from trenchers, pickups and power line repair trucks to an 18-wheel tractor/trailer. Finding the fuel wasn't too much of a challenge, Pearce said. Vehicles in Macon, Ga., and nearby Rollins Air Force Base already use biodiesel and create a large demand.
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