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December 03, 2005
Beyond Boulder: Spreading good news


Spreading good news

By JUDITH KOHLER Associated Press Writer
Thursday, December 1, 2005 8:20 PM MST

A Colorado biodiesel company is adding Fort Collins to the list of cities where it sells its fuel made from crops raised by farmers in the region.

Blue Sun Biodiesel, based in Westminster, will open the pump Friday at a downtown gas station, bringing to roughly 15 sites statewide where the fuel is sold. The company also has retail sites in New Mexico, Utah and Idaho.

“This is sort of a milestone for us because it's been a tough market for us to break into,” said Jeff Probst, Blue Sun president and chief executive.

The new site expands the company's foothold in Fort Collins, where Blue Sun was previously based. The city uses Blue Sun biodiesel for vehicles in its fleets.

Other cities that use the biofuel include Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Durango and Santa Fe, N.M.

The Denver school district and Public Utilities of New Mexico also use the fuel for some of its vehicles, Probst said.

The company's flagship product, B20, is 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent conventional diesel. Blue Sun contracts with farmers in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas who grow canola, mustard seed, flax and other oil seed plants.

Costs for biodiesel can generally run 10 cents higher or lower per gallon than conventional diesel, Probst said.

During a news conference in August, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., promoted biodiesel as a way to cut the country's reliance on foreign oil and give agriculture a boost.

Preliminary results from a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden showed that Blue Sun's fuel produced less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and other pollutants than conventional diesel fuel.

The first phase of the two-year study found that biodiesel cut carbon monoxide by 32 percent, hydrocarbons by 40 percent and particulates by 24 percent.

The lab also found that public buses in Boulder using Blue Sun B20 produced 4 percent less nitrogen oxide, a major source of ozone, which creates health problems for children and people with respiratory troubles.

New Belgium Brewing Co. has been fueling its three delivery trucks with biodiesel for more than a year, in large part to reduce emissions, said Hillary Mizia, the brewery's sustainability coordinator.

“We recognize that in order to really be a sustainable business, you need to be respectful of the planet from which our resources come,” Mizia said.

The Fort Collins-based brewery received a $1,000 grant last year to help offset any difference between using biodiesel as opposed to conventional diesel. The new Blue Sun pump is right near the brewery.

Blue Sun, founded about four years ago, plans to build a refinery in Colorado.

“It is an ongoing project that is progressing extremely well and it will continue to remain a focus until completion,” Probst said.

Last year, Blue Sun reported that it sold about 10 million gallons of biodiesel. Probst said the company has seen double-digit growth this year.

 

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