Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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First retail biodiesel station in Canada opens
MARKHAM, Ont. (March 2, 2004) -- Ottawa-based Topia Energy -- one of Canada's largest commercial producer and supplier of biodiesel -- unveiled the country's first retail biodiesel fueling pump today in Markham, Ont. The company says the station -- located at 24 Main St., near the 407 and 404 highways -- will serve environmentally friendly trucking and bus companies. Municipal fleets are currently the largest users of biodiesel. "We're glad to be able to now make biodiesel available to large and small customers alike," said Topia Energy president Govindh Jayaraman. Biodiesel is a non-toxic renewable vegetable oil-based fuel that can increase diesel engine life while dramatically reducing emissions. It can be burned in any standard, unmodified diesel engine in pure form (B100) or in a blend with petroleum diesel. This pump will offer a blend called B20 -- 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel -- the most common form for commercial use in vehicles. Using B20, a diesel engine delivers similar torque, horsepower, and fuel economy as petroleum-powered diesels, yet cuts unburned hydrocarbon emissions, which cause greenhouses gases, by as much as 30 percent. It does not reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, although biodiesel’s lack of sulphur allows the use of NOx controls that can’t be used with conventional diesel fuel. "The environmental benefits are immense," Roger Smith, manager of fleet services for Toronto Hydro told Today's Trucking after the utility switched its 400-vehicle fleet to B20 in 2002. Smith says the result was a 27 per-cent drop in emissions. "It’s also 10 times safer to handle than table salt," he adds. The City of Brampton, Ont., became Canada’s first municipality to commit to the ongoing use of biodiesel soon after. The city later tried B50 biodiesel, a half-and-half mix expected to reduce emissions by 60 to 70 percent. Hoping the biodiesel trend catches on to the private sector, the Ontario government in 2002 exempted biodiesel from its 14.3-cents-a-litre tax on fuel. However, the big disadvantage of biodiesel remains its price. Most biodiesel is made from soybean oil, a commodity whose price can swing wildly depending on the success of the soybean crop.
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