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City makes fuel switch to help environment and save money

In an effort to improve the environment and potentially save $25,000 annually, the City of Kansas City, Mo., is using a cleaner burning fuel in its diesel powered vehicles. The City uses approximately 1.2 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.

"Using biodiesel saves money, but equally important is the potential positive environmental impact," said Gerry Calk, the City's fleet administrator.

On May 31, the City's initiated a pilot program at the fueling station at 1901 Brooklyn Ave. and began using a B50 blend. No fuel related problems were reported in the 500 vehicles that made the switch during the pilot program phase. This has already saved the City $3,011 compared to the cost of 100 percent regular diesel and $1,804 compared to the previous blend of B20 biodiesel.

Because of this positive result, the Central Fleet Division (City Manager's Office) is expanding the B50 biodiesel to all possible City fueling station locations to fuel all of the City's 1,038 diesel powered vehicles through the summer months. The City will drop back to a winter mix of B20 from October until March. The winter mix of B20 must be used during cooler months because of its ability to respond to cold flow properties.

Based on the results so far and compiled for one year (using 250,000 gallons of biodiesel from April through September and 140,000 gallons of biodiesel from October through March), it is estimated the City will replace 390,000 gallons of regular diesel with neat biodiesel annually as this program is expanded to include all of the City's fueling stations.

With the volatility of energy prices it is virtually impossible to accurately predict cost savings, but based on this data compiled for one year, it is estimated that the City would save $25,473.

Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from vegetable oils and animal fats. Biodiesel is a pure, or 100 percent, organically-based fuel. It is referred to as B100 or "neat" biodiesel.

A biodiesel blend is pure biodiesel blended with petrodiesel. Biodiesel blends are referred to as Bxx. The xx indicates the amount of biodiesel in the blend. For example, a B20 blend is 20 percent by volume biodiesel and 80 percent by volume petrodiesel. This B20 is the blend the city was using until the recent change.

Biodiesel can be blended at any level and be used in diesel engines with little or no modifications to the engine or the fuel system and provide similar horsepower, torque and mileage as petrodiesel.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to voluntarily perform EPA Tier I and Tier II testing to quantify emission characteristics and health effects. That study found that B20 reduced total hydrocarbons by up to 30 percent, carbon monoxide up to 20 percent, and total particulate matter up to 15 percent.

Research also shows that the ozone-forming potential of the hydrocarbon emissions of pure biodiesel is nearly 50 percent less than that of petroleum fuel. Pure biodiesel does not contain sulfur and therefore reduces sulfur dioxide exhaust from diesel engines to virtually zero.

City News Releases - 2006

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