Study Finds Biodiesel Most Common Choice for Alternative Fleet Fueling
Nearly One-Fifth of Fleets Use Fuel
According to the National Truck Equipment Association’s 2016 Fleet Purchasing Outlook survey, 18 percent of fleets in the U.S. and Canada operate using biodiesel. That metric makes it the most commonly used alternative fuel, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
Biodiesel may be most commonly associated with the stuff do-it-yoursefers make from waste vegetable oil, lye, and other ingredients, but the alt-fuel industry is far more legitimate than the backyard-brewer image would suggest. Made from diverse sources (like soybeans, jatropha, waste animal fats, and the aforementioned veggie oil), responsibly produced biodiesel has a number of positive effects, including decreased emissions and lower fuel costs compared to traditional diesel.
The most common form of commercial biodiesel is B20, found in many fuel stations and truck stops nationwide. The fuel, which is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel, is compatible with many new diesel vehicles, as evidenced by the city of Moline, Illinois. Moline has converted its entire fleet of diesel vehicles to B20, including its more critical vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances.
Moline Fleet Manager J.D. Schulte sings the fuel’s praises. “We made the switch to clean, domestically produced plant-based biodiesel 10 years ago, not only because it was a good choice for our fleet, but also because it was a good choice for our community,” he said, as quoted by the National Biodiesel Board.
Although lower fuel costs in recent months have squelched demand for alternative fuels overall, the NTEA survey released in 2016 revealed that a greater percentage of respondents took advantage of biodiesel’s benefits than those who responded to the 2015 survey. Then, only 15 percent reported using biodiesel in their fleets, compared to today’s 18 percent.
There are a few caveats to the news, however. Since the data is based on participation from survey respondents, it’s subject to bias, as fleet owners who operate alternative fuels may be more likely to report back than those who run gas and traditional diesel. And while commercial-grade biodiesel is usually as clean and reliable as petrodiesel, its unique composition can leave it susceptible to contaminants if it’s not responsibly produced, transported and stored.
On the whole, however, we’ve had good luck with B20, and the city of Moline’s decade-long commitment to biodiesel is a strong testament to the fuel’s benefits.
Source: National Biodiesel Board