I was biking past Jay’s Garage in SE Portland on Friday and saw a biodiesel tanker truck filling the tanks for the first time since the remodeled and upgraded tank system was completed. Since Jay’s is still one of the few fueling stations in Portland that sell B99 biodiesel, it was good to see that they’d be selling it again very soon (perhaps now).
In Portland, the shift to biofuels is definitely underway. Although there are still relatively few fueling stations that sell B99, the City of Portland ordinance mandating that all diesel sold in Portland be at least 5% biodiesel and all gasoline at least 10% ethanol became effective this month; and Portland is awash with biofuels. Many Portlanders may be unaware that they are already emitting less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter and helping to sever our dependence on foreign oil. But they are. I’m proud to live in a city where politicians are making bold moves to change the status quo.
In fact, Jay’s Garage is the only fueling station that carries B99 and E85 in the nation. Little tidbit I learned at the Fields of Fuel event.
Aside from the dependence on foreign oil, how does biodiesel compare to diesel from an environmental standpoint? Not only in emissions, but energy used to produce it.
Biodiesel is essentially a carbon-neutral fuel, as it comes from a plant. The CO2 absorbed from the plant to make it grow is extracted from the plant and converted into biodiesel. Once burned, there are CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere but there is no new CO2 due to the photosynthesis process.
The energy used to produce biodiesel is 3.2 units of fuel product for every unit of fossil fuel energy consumed. There is an argument that biodiesel does nothing good for the environment as a result of clear-cutting. While to some extent it does take land to produce biodiesel, EcoShuttle obtains biodiesel from waste vegetable oils from local co-ops who get used grease from restaurants. To prevent land damage, the present and future will utilize algae from deserts as a main source of biodiesel.
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