NBB helps promote biodiesel's benefits underground

By | January 19, 2010
Miners have several ways of knowing whether the air they breathe hundreds of feet below ground is cleaner. Mine companies Rogers Group and Hutchinson Salt Co. both have extensive testing that shows biodiesel cuts emissions in their mines. Employees have their own proof: less black soot in their handkerchiefs when they blow their noses.

The Mine Safety Health Administration recently added even more verification. MSHA published a 206-page report that updates the mining community on biodiesel's continued positive effects underground. After testing multiple biodiesel blends, MSHA concluded that biodiesel reduces emissions-especially when combined with the use of aftertreatment devices on diesel engines. "The result is a cleaner and healthier working environment for miners," MSHA states.

Hutchinson Salt was the first mine of any kind to use B99. Since 2003, the company has used between 17,000 and 30,000 gallons of B99 a year, depending on the demand for salt.

Its employees noted cleaner air in the mines within days after the switch to biodiesel. B99 powers all its underground diesel equipment, ranging from loaders to diesel pickups to tractors. Max Liby, vice president of manufacturing, says they have seen no reduction in performance even when machines run 20 consecutive hours.

In Kentucky, Rogers Group has three years of cleaner air with B99 at below sea-level aggregate mines. The company uses B50 at another mine that has more natural air flow. Routine maintenance found their diesel equipment engines are much cleaner.
"We at Rogers Group constantly look for opportunities to create a safe work environment for our employees and to minimize our effect on the environment," says Darin Matson, vice president for aggregate operations. "Biodiesel emits fewer diesel particulates than conventional fuels, and when used in the underground mining operations, that translates to a safer work environment for our employees."

To help promote biodiesel's benefits underground, NBB's communications team identified mines using biodiesel, and worked to help spread the news about their success stories.
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