LOUISVILLE. A new study by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and Chicago-based Indigenous Energy, LLC, developers of emissions tracking systems, claims that using soybean-based biodiesel can reduce carbon emissions by 78% compared to petroleum-based diesel alone on a life cycle basis – despite the fact that burning one gallon of either fuel produces almost the exact same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The key is in the “life cycle” component of the calculation, according to Peter Probst, president and director of research & development of Indigenous Energy. Though one gallon of soybean-based biodiesel emits 21.2 pounds of (CO2) when burned – a hair less than the 22.2 pounds released when burning a gallon of 100% petroleum-based diesel –it’s the growth history of the amount of plant matter going into the biodiesel that accounts for that 78% reduction, he said.
“Plants absorb CO2 as they grow; pulling a set amount of CO2 out of the air,” Probst explained during a press conference at the Mid America Trucking Show. “Petroleum diesel, however, does not absorb CO2 prior to being pulled out of the ground. Without that ‘life cycle’ element factored in, the amount of CO2 released by both fuels is really no different.”
Using the life cycle component in their calculations, NBB and Indigenous conducted a CO2 study with the help of Los Angeles-based States Logistics. The fleet operated two of its 2007 model International 8600 tractors and one Freightliner truck on soy-based B99 [biodiesel made up of 99% soybean oil and 1% petroleum diesel] with four additional trucks running on soy-based B5 [biodiesel made up 5% soybean oil and 95% petroleum diesel] over a six-month period.
The B99 trucks ran 48,198 miles and consumed 8,770 gallons over the six month period. The equivalent straight petroleum diesel output would have been 89.9 tons, but with B99, the output was 19.8 tons for a savings of 70.1 tons. The B5 trucks (two-axle flat bed) traveled 61,433 miles and consumed 7,090 gallons of B5. Equivalent petroleum CO2 output would have been 71.4, with B5 the output was reduced to 68.6 for 2.8 tons of CO2 reduction.
Tom Verry, NBB director of outreach & development, said in addition to CO2 reduction, an estimated 119 lbs. of particulate matter were eliminated from the exhaust during the six-month period. Carbon monoxide (CO) was reduced by over 500 lbs., hydrocarbons (HC) by over 50 lbs., and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by close to 40 lbs.
“This information is valuable to any fleet using biodiesel,” noted Verry. “We picture eventually offering this as a value-add report for BioTrucker Fuel Card holders.”