Ohio State is Trying Soybean
Diesel Fuel in Some Buses
Friday, October 03, 2003
Tiffany Y . Latta
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
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Driver Derek Kurtzman fills up his Ohio State University bus with a soybean-diesel fuel. Advocates say the blend produces less pollution.
Some Ohio State University students waiting to catch a campus bus could find themselves suddenly craving fast food.
The OSU Campus Area Bus Service is running seven buses with B20 a blend of 80 percent diesel fuel and 20 percent soybean oil.
"Some say it smells like french fries. But I think it smells like a hot, hot oven," said John Rogers, sales manager for Carpenter Oil.
The Newark company is providing Ohio State with the biodiesel fuel for a one-year pilot program.
The program, which started about a month ago, is a collaboration between the universitys College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the universitys Center for Automotive Research.
Advocates say the soy blend reduces pollution while helping Ohio farmers.
The mixed fuel performs like standard diesel but provides better lubrication for engines and emits fewer toxins. No changes have to be made to the buses.
Some OSU workers, including bus drivers, say they notice a difference.
"When you used to start them, you could see black smoke billow out," said driver Patricia Harris. "But you dont see that anymore."
The smoke now is light gray.
Most students seemed oblivious to the change, although university officials said they plan to get the word out on campus.
If the experiment proves viable, officials hope to expand the program and convert all of the universitys diesel vehicles including 34 buses to the soy mixture, said Robert Summerfield, the universitys transportation coordinator.
The demand for biodiesel has increased during the past few years, and thousands of boats, buses, cars and trucks nationwide are using the mix, according to Gene Gebolys, president of World Energy Alternatives in Boston.
It costs about 20 cents more per gallon than regular diesel fuel, Gebolys said.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires federal and state governments to use alternative fuels, said Sam Spofforth, executive director of the Ohio Clean Fuels Coalition.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor, Mich., are among those that use biodiesel in their fleets, Spofforth said.
Other alternative fuels include ethanol, natural gas and propane, Spofforth said.
Soy biodiesel supporters said Ohio States efforts could boost demand for the product and benefit the state, which had a soybean harvest of 187 million bushels in 2001, among the largest in the nation.
Susie Turner, executive director of the Ohio Soybean Council, said that increased interest in soy biofuel could help reduce the countrys dependence on foreign oil.
"The more soy biodiesel is used with high-profile organizations like Ohio State, the more valuable the crop becomes for the farmer," Turner said.
Central Ohio Clean Fuels Coalition
930 Kinnear Road Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 292-5435 Fax: (614) 688-4111
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