Ky. Buses Running on Grease, Oil

Wednesday, July 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Public transportation smells a bit this summer: Area buses have begun a two-month experiment using fuel that is 80 percent diesel and 20 percent used cooking oil and grease.

The federally funded project involves 288 buses of the Cincinnati Metro and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky systems and restaurant grease.

``It smells like cooking oil, burning vegetable oil,'' said Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board, which coordinates research and development of the fuels.

More than 40 federal, state and public utility vehicle fleets are using biodiesel fuels — up from three a year ago — including the Postal Service, Jobe said Tuesday.

Agency officials said biodiesel fuel is still more expensive than regular, dirtier-burning diesel fuel.

Cincinnati Metro — which has 426 buses that consume 3 million gallons of diesel fuel annually — buys diesel fuel in bulk for 51 cents per gallon. Biodiesel fuel based entirely on the used restaurant grease costs $1.49 per gallon, Metro spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers said.

The Metro agency used soybean-based diesel fuel in 1993 and 1994 tests but has not used it since because it is more expensive.

Supporters of biodiesel fuels said, however, prices are coming down and use is increasing since President Clinton signed an executive order last year requiring increased use of bio-based fuels.

Sierra Club spokesman Glen Brand said he applauds the experiment, but said it probably would do little to improve air quality. Biodiesel fuels, praised as biodegradable and cleaner than regular diesel, will simply keep dirty diesel engines on the road longer, he said.

He said he would rather see the transit systems join others in Chicago and Vancouver, British Columbia, that are experimenting with natural gas or fuel cells that produce electricity and a byproduct of water.


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