The United States and Canada have joined together for the Biodiesel 49 Degrees Border Project (Bio49), an initiative that seeks to reduce diesel emissions from utility trucks through the use of biodiesel. Bio49 is named after the forty-ninth parallel that creates the American-Canadian border because the project’s focus is on utility truck fleets operating around Washington and British Columbia.

Bio49 began in January and is funded for one year through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) West Coast Collaborative (WCC). It is estimated that 144,000 gallons of biodiesel will be used, replacing 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel each month. According to the WCC, two power companies, Puget Sound Energy in Washington and BC Hydro in British Columbia, will fuel their trucks with B5, B20, and B100 blends. Puget Sound Energy will fuel thirteen trucks with B20, and BC Hydro will run a large portion of its fleet on B5, with some trucks operating on B20 and B100.

“This is an important first step in increasing biofuels use by businesses,” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said. “As more businesses begin using biodiesel, we can make real progress toward increased energy independence.”

The Washington Restaurant Association is providing the used vegetable oil for the biodiesel processing. The fuel will be made by students at two technical schools, Bellingham Technical College and British Columbia Institute of Technology, as part of their curriculum. The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC) is managing the project, and it installed a biodiesel processor at each college.

The Biodiesel 49 Project is an ideal model of a business enterprise that blends technology innovation with environmental health and safety,” said Jeff Morris, NWETC director. “Producing biodiesel fuel for the commercial market creates industry growth and jobs, repurposes a waste product into a raw material, and offers a solution for cleaner air. It’s truly a win-win-win situation.”

NWETC received $69,777 in grant money from the EPA to start the project as part of the WCC, a public-private partnership working to reduce diesel emissions along the West Coast. In addition, $426,032 in matching funds from other organizations, such as the Washington Technology Center (WTC), will be used to run Bio49.

According to NWETC, capital costs of the project are covered under the initial funding, meaning costs to continue Bio49 would be primarily operational. Installation, training, production, and utilization will occur during the first year followed by evaluation of the project’s success. After the initial year of operation, it is hoped that production will continue for as long as there is demand for biodiesel, and NWETC will create outreach and education programs from Bio49 data with the help of the WTC.

The NAFTC offers the course Overview of Biodiesel. For additional information on this course and other NAFTC courses and workshops, please visit the curriculum section of our website.

biodiesel processor

Biodiesel processors are used to make the fuel. NAFTC Photo

biodiesel training

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium offers training on how to make biodiesel. NAFTC Photo

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