US Coast Guard conducts B100 trial in 49-foot BUSL boat

By Erin Voegele | February 28, 2012

The U.S. Coast Guard is exploring the possibility fueling some of its vessels with biodiesel. According to Rich Hansen, branch chief of the USCG’s Research and Development Center surface branch, the USCG is evaluating the use of B100 in a 49-foot Buoy Utility Stern Loading (BUSL) boat. The BUSL boat will operate in its normal capacities over a one-year period while the USCG collects data on boat performance and fuel behavior.  

“The ultimate goal of this effort is to provide the Coast Guard decision makers with information on what it would take for the Coast Guard to transition to B100,” Hansen said. According to the USCG, the objective of the project is to provide a means for the USCG to comply with a Presidential Executive Order and a Department of Homeland Security policy that sets reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable fuels and improved energy efficiency.

The next stage of the three-year project is scheduled to start this spring. A draft test is currently being reviewed with Cummins Inc., an original engine manufacturer that is working with the USGC on the initiative under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). Field testing preparations are scheduled to begin in May, Hansen said, which includes cleaning fuel tanks prior to fueling the vessel with biodiesel as well as initial trial runs. More extensive field testing of B100 is expected to begin in July, and will be continued for one year. A report outlining final results is expected to be published in 2014.

As part of the testing activities, Hansen said the research and evaluation team will periodically collect data engine performance, fuel conditions and fuel use. The team will also document its observations on fuel stability in the tanks, fuel transfer, and fuel transfer and boat fuel system material compatibility. The goal is to provide the USGC with insight into what types of changes would need to be made to in order to employ B100 in its operations, such as fuel quality and temperature management and fuel filter systems improvements. The analysis will also address handling issues, such as fuel inventory control and rotation.

The testing will be carried out at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, Conn. Hansen said location is important because it will allow trial activities to be carried out under a variety of conditions. “The location was chosen,” he said, “so we had four seasons worth of handling issues.”  


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