Biodiesel Big Part of Earth Day

John Davis

earthday2009Happy Earth Day, everybody!!

“Biodiesel makes sense on Earth Day and every day.” Those words from our friend Joe Jobe, CEO at the National Biodiesel Board, sum up how the green fuel plays an important part in our lives… not just on days like this when we recognize eco-friendly actions, but every day. Burning the 700 million gallons of biodiesel produced in this country last year is the equivalent of taking nearly one million vehicles off the road… truly a friendly fuel to our beloved Earth.

That’s why the NBB is recognizing some of the cities around the country that are using biodiesel to make a difference:

“Denver has a strong environmental and sustainability program, so we are always looking to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Carlos Guerra, Denver Public Works Facility Manager. “You add that to the escalation of oil costs and biodiesel seemed like the only responsible thing to do.”

The city operates 60 heavy-duty vehicles on B20 (a blend of 80 petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel) year round and has been using a biodiesel blend for more than five years. Even in cold Denver winters the biodiesel blend offers both performance and environmental benefits…

Albuquerque – All of Albuquerque’s approximately 750 diesel vehicles began using biodiesel blends in 2004. About 45 percent of the city’s fleet boasts alternative fuel, including biodiesel.

Atlanta – Atlanta is working to introduce a Zero Waste Zone. The target area, in the downtown convention district will focus on recycling and reusing all waste products. As an integral part of the initiative restaurants will recycle used grease for the local production of biodiesel.

Birmingham – About two years ago Birmingham introduced biodiesel as a step towards reducing overall emissions. Now about 600 city vehicles operate on a blend of the cleaner burning fuel.

Dallas – Texas is known for doing things big, and in Dallas they are using biodiesel to do things better as well. Biodiesel blends are an integral part of operation for several hundred vehicles including sanitation trucks, utility trucks and construction equipment.

Greensboro – Greensboro takes a clean path for a dirty job. Their 700 garbage trucks rely on a cleaner burning biodiesel blend to make the rounds to pick up Greensboro’s garbage.

Kansas City – Since 2002, Kansas City has ramped up its biodiesel use to now include 1100 vehicles. Whenever costs allow, the city uses B20 October through March and B50 in the summer.

Las Vegas – Las Vegas has put B20 to work year round and continuously in all on and off road diesel powered vehicles and equipment since 2001. The fleet includes a long list of important resources such as street sweepers, Vactor trucks, 18 wheelers, dump trucks, pick up trucks, Gators, trenchers, backhoes, skid steers, cargo vans, 22 passenger buses, forklifts, aerial lift trucks, front loaders, tractors, asphalt patch trucks, water trucks, flail mowers, utility body trucks, field rakes, aerators, concrete saws and even trash compactors. The city reports that, because it is cleaner burning than conventional Type # 2 diesel fuel, maintenance costs have been reduced an average of 17 percent, performance has been enhanced and visible particulate soot has been virtually eliminated.

San Francisco – Though the city by the bay has been on the biodiesel bandwagon for some time, they continue to come up with new and innovative initiatives. A new plant under construction will convert trap grease (or brown grease) collected from restaurants to biodiesel. (The city already collects and recycles used cooking oil, called yellow grease.) The plant is the first brown grease to biodiesel plant in the nation. As part of the project San Francisco will create a tool kit to make it easy for other communities to adopt similar programs.

And these are the big cities making a difference. Don’t forget about all the small school districts that are turning kitchen grease into clean-burning biodiesel to run their own buses… or the long-haul truckers going coast-to-coast on a dose of the green fuel made from chicken fat… or the Iowa farmer fueling up his tractor with biodiesel as he gets ready to put this year’s crop of soybeans in the ground for next year’s batch of biodiesel. We’re all doing what we can for this one place we have to live: Earth. Once again, Happy Earth Day!

Biodiesel, NBB