Variety, Flexibility Are Keys to Biodiesel Market

CHELSEA, Massachusetts, December 7, 2000 (ENS) - World Energy Alternatives, the largest primary biodiesel supplier in the country, has built its customer base with virgin soy biodiesel, the fuel the company says is the most mature and widely recognized type of biodiesel. Now, after four years of research and development, World Energy supplies biodiesel made from every available feedstock, including reclaimed restaurant oil.

Headquartered in Chelsea, Massachusetts, World Energy officially opened its first West Coast office in Half Moon Bay, California on December 1, under the direction of Graham Noyes.

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Soybean farmer fills his truck with biodiesel. (Photo courtesy National Biodiesel Board)
The company's goal is first to build the California biodiesel market and also to build the market for biodiesel nationwide.

“While California’s state agencies and air quality management districts are grappling with challenging air quality issues, the state currently utilizes very little biodiesel," Noyes said.

A few California companies are turning to biodiesel. One of the first California fleets to use biodiesel is Green Team, a San Jose recycling company, which has begun running its trucks on 100 percent biodiesel.

The company provides comprehensive recycling and garbage collection to about 45 percent of San Jose's single family residents - 84,000 households. Green Team now fuels all of its 94 recycling and garbage trucks exclusively with biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel made from domestically produced renewable fats and oils - most commonly soybean oil. It has similar fuel economy and performance as conventional petroleum diesel.

Although it can be blended with petroleum diesel at any level - most fleets use a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel - the fleet will use pure biodiesel.

"We take pride in being an environmental leader," said Kerynn Gianotti, public affairs manager. "I think you'll start to see more people using 100 percent biodiesel, in California especially, because of the air quality laws that are coming into effect shortly."

Noyes would like to see more biodiesel used in school buses throughout the region. “I began using pure biodiesel earlier this year in my VW Turbo Diesel van," he said. "The more I learned about the fuel, the more I saw it as an immediate opportunity to improve our air quality and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I also became convinced that its unique benefits for engine wear and its immediate usability in diesel vehicles would accelerate its popularity."

As the only primary supplier to offer both virgin and recycled biodiesel as well as ethanol, World Energy specializes in flexibility to match the needs of unique customers.

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This firetruck in St. Louis, Missouri runs on biodiesel. (Photo courtesy National Biodiesel Board)
World Energy has customized alternative fuel solutions to fleet customers. The company produces a variety of biodiesel feedstocks to fit customer preference or the current commodity market condition.

Customers can order custom pre-blended fuels, a service that World Energy alone provides. “Each customer has particular needs in terms the blend percentage and type of biodiesel - whether it be derived from virgin soybean oil, natural vegetable oil, or recycled oil," Noyes says.

Noyes predicts that 2001 will be the year when biodiesel gains recognition on a grand scale.

Biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engines. As the only alternative fuel to have fully completed health effects testing required by the Clean Air Act, it is proven to reduce unhealthy emissions associated with petroleum and does not contribute to global warming.

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Bus running on soybean biodiesel (Photo courtesy Nebraska Soybean Board)
According to an EPA study completed at the University of California at Davis, the use of pure biodiesel instead of petroleum based diesel fuel could offer a 93.6 percent reduction in cancer risks from emissions exposure.

Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Missouri says the biodiesel market will boom when the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed low sulfur diesel standard comes into force. The EPA has proposed to lower the sulfur levels in diesel fuel from the current 500 parts per million (ppm) to less than 15 ppm.

Biodiesel fuel contains no sulfur, and if used as an additive could improve the performance of petroleum based diesel fuel.

Jobe says that the processes refiners will have to undertake to meet the 15 ppm standard will destroy the lubricity of petroleum based diesel fuel. This is an opportunity for biodiesel, he says. "Biodiesel is an excellent lubricity additive. Adding one percent biodiesel improves the lubricity up to 65 percent.

This is important in diesel engines because diesel engine parts are lubed by the fuel itself.

Use of biodiesel as a substitute for the toxic oxygenate MTBE that is polluting the nation's groundwater could also increase the biodiesel market, Jobe said.

For more information, visit the World Energy website at: http://www.worldenergy.net or email Lesley Garzik at: lesley@kuniangroup.com

To learn more about biodiesel in general, visit http://www.biodiesel.org or contact the National Biodiesel Board at 1-800-841-5849.