Government Fleet Top News

Union County Tests Biofuel in Heavy Duty Vehicles

February 23, 2009

UNION COUNTY, NJ - In a six-month pilot project, Union County will test its heavy-duty vehicles at Ash Brook Golf Course to run on biodiesel fuel to improve the county's environomental footprint, according to the Star-Ledger.

The alternative fuel, a mix of 5-percent biofuel - made of soybean oil - and 95-percent diesel fuel, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released compared to regular diesel, said Tina Casey, a county spokeswoman.

The biodiesel, which Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co. will supply for the pilot project, also burns cleaner, leading to less wear and tear on engines, extending a vehicle's time on the road, Casey said.

During the test period, 16 county dump trucks, bulldozers, tractors, mowers, and air compressors will run on biodiesel. Officials will study pollution output, along with vehicles' breakdown and acceleration rates, said Louis Bassano, a longtime New Jersey state legislator who now a Mitchell Supreme executive.

Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski said the eventual goal would be to run all of Union County's 260 diesel-powered vehicles and heavy equipment on biodiesel. The mixes of biodiesel can increase to 20 percent without having to get specially-designed engines for the vehicles, and officials said if the pilot-project is successful, they would strive for that ratio.

The County has also pledged that most vehicles it will buy will use hybrid or flex-fuel, according to Union County manager George Devanney.

At about $1.93 per gallon, biodiesel costs more than ordinary diesel, which sells for about $1.54 a gallon, county officials said. For all of 2008, the county's heavy-duty vehicles and equipment consumed 285,000 gallons of regular diesel.

But those prices should level off as improvements to biofuels are made and other alternative fuels are developed, said Joseph Fiordaliso, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities commissioner, who attended today's event. And for now, he said, the extra price is worth it. "We all have to make a conscious effort to reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on foreign oil to minimize climate change."


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