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CONTACT: Lindy Eichenbaum Lent
720 865-9016

CONTACT: Nancy Kuhn
720 865-3911

Denver to Begin Using Biodiesel Fuels

Mayor John Hickenlooper announced at the city’s Earth Fair on Thursday that the City and County of Denver is going to begin using B20 biodiesel fuel in a pilot program that will begin next week and run through December 2004. The purpose of the pilot program is to evaluate biodiesel and its effects on vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions.

“This is a giant step forward in terms of the city’s commitment to conservation, energy efficiency and environmental health,” said Mayor Hickenlooper, whose official car is a gas-electric hybrid vehicle from the city’s fleet. “I commend our Public Works and Fleet Management Departments for their innovation and look forward to the results of this pilot project. Biodiesel represents a tremendous opportunity – both environmentally and economically – for the region.”

The city’s pilot program will involve approximately 60 vehicles at the Wastewater Management Building. For the next eight months, these vehicles will fuel with B20 biodiesel. Information will be gathered on vehicle fuel mileage, maintenance, repairs, performance and emissions.

Studies have shown that biodiesel can substantially benefit human health and the environment. Biodiesel has been shown to emit lower levels of carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and particulate matter than regular petroleum diesel. Tests also show that biodiesel produces lower emissions of PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and nitrated PAH compounds, which have been identified as potential cancer-causing compounds.

Biodiesel is a clean-burning, alternative fuel produced from domestic renewable resources, such as soybeans and mustard seed. Biodiesel can be used in its pure form or blended at any level with petroleum diesel. The City and County of Denver will use B20 biodiesel, which is a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

An estimated 50,000 gallons of B20 biodiesel fuel will be utilized in the pilot program. The total cost of the pilot program is estimated at $15,000. [More details on the parameters and benefits of the biodiesel pilot project are attached.]

Also at Thursday’s Earth Fair, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Webb Municipal Office Building with a prestigious ENERGY STAR designation for its environmentally conscious design and technologies.

City and County of Denver Biodiesel Pilot Program Project Parameters

Approximately 60 diesel engine vehicles are identified for use in the pilot program, which will run from April through December of 2004. The vehicles will fuel with biodiesel instead of regular petroleum diesel. Fueling will occur at the Wastewater Management facility.

The following data will be gathered and analyzed during the pilot program:

Fleet Maintenance will test the fuel’s effects on particulate emissions by performing opacity tests on a sampling of vehicles before and after biodiesel use.

Fleet Maintenance will gather fuel mileage data on all vehicles and determine if mileage increases or decreases in new and older vehicles.

Fleet Maintenance will survey vehicle operators on vehicle performance.

Fleet Maintenance will monitor vehicle repair and maintenance histories and perform specialized vehicle inspections and oil analysis.

Fleet will collaborate with Gray Oil and Blue Sun Biodiesel to obtain any data they are currently gathering on fuel additives that reduce NOx emissions.

What the City Hopes to Gain

  • Information: City and County of Denver will increase its working knowledge of biodiesel and the effects it has on vehicle mileage and performance.
  • Valuable data: Denver hopes to identify potential costs savings associated with biodiesel that could help offset its higher price.
  • A cleaner environment: Based on emissions reductions substantiated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City of Denver expects that using B-20 biodiesel in a 50,000 gallon pilot program will result in the following smog, ozone, and greenhouse gas emissions savings: A. CO reduced - 711 lbs
    B. HC reduced - 84 lbs
    C. PM reduced - 64 lbs
    D. SO2 reduced - 44 lbs>br> E. CO2 reduced -161,210 lbs
    F. NOx 0 to 3% decrease is possible with combustion fuel additive

    The Benefits of Biodiesel

    Fleet Maintenance recommends the use of biodiesel based on its environmental benefits and ease of implementation.

  • Biodiesel is a domestically-produced, renewable fuel, typically made from seed oil (soybean, rapeseed, brown mustard seed, etc.) or used fryer fat.
  • Biodiesel could be utilized in all of the City’s existing diesel vehicles with no modifications required to the vehicles, to the City’s maintenance facilities, or to the City’s fueling infrastructure.
  • Biodiesel is readily available in Denver.
  • Biodiesel reduces serious air pollutants such as soot, particulates, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and air toxics.
  • Use of biodiesel could end up providing a boost to the local agricultural community/economy and create new jobs.
  • Use of biodiesel would reduce City’s dependency on foreign oil and shift spending to domestically produced energy sources.
  • Biodiesel is simple to phase in and out of use.
  • Four local municipalities (Lakewood, Aurora, Arvada, and Littleton Public Schools) are already using biodiesel with no problems reported.
  • Biodiesel mixes with popular diesel fuels.
  • Cetane rating is approximately 50, which equates to better/faster combustion, less knocking and improved acceleration.
  • Reduces Carbon Monoxide (CO) emissions by 12%, reduces Carbon Dioxides (CO2) by 16%, reduces Hydrocarbons (HC) emissions by 11%, and particulates (PM-10) by 18% compared to conventional diesel fuel.
  • Biodiesel’s higher lubricity can reduce engine/injector/pump wear.
  • Studies show biodiesel performs similarly to petroleum diesel while benefiting the environment and human health compared to petroleum diesel.
  • Use of biodiesel won’t void parts and materials workmanship warranties of any major U.S. engine manufacturer, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
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