YTCEC Blog

Biodiesel FAQs

Biodiesel FAQs Blog
As the regional designee of the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities aims to reduce petroleum consumption within the local transportation sector by promoting a host of alternative fuels, including electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, propane, and biodiesel. While each alt fuel has its own place in our ultimate, petroleum-free fuel mix, selecting the most appropriate fuel can be a daunting task. One easy place to start, however, is with diesel vehicles. Blends of up to 20% biodiesel, called B20 (20% biodiesel and 80% conventional diesel), can be used as drop-in fuels in most diesel vehicles without modification, making this locally-available renewable fuel easy to incorporate into personal, commercial, or municipal diesel vehicles.

What Is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is a renewable substitute for petroleum diesel that operates in compression-ignition engines. It burns more cleanly than conventional diesel and can be produced domestically from vegetable oils, animal tallow, and restaurants’ used fry oil, which helps to expand markets for the country’s farmers.
biodiesel in green barrels

What Are the Advantages to Biodiesel?
Biodiesel has a variety of benefits over conventional diesel; it is renewable, domestically produced, safer, and has fewer pollutants and GHG emissions.

Energy Security
Because biodiesel is derived from vegetable oil, animal tallow, or waste fry oil, it can be produced domestically, offsetting oil imports from politically unstable countries.

Market Security
Petroleum markets have a significant amount of volatility, making diesel prices unpredictable. Biodiesel mixes help to balance diesel prices, making them more reliable.

Air Quality Improvements
Biodiesel emissions meet the same standards as petroleum diesel. With exhaust aftertreatment, often selective catalytic reduction, NOx emissions are reduced to extremely low levels, comparable to conventional fuels.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Because biodiesel is renewably produced from plant or animal sources, it releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum, or fossil, diesel. In fact, operating a vehicle on pure biodiesel, B100, reduces emissions by 75%, while B20 still reduces emissions by a significant 15%.

Safety
Biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable. It has a higher flashpoint than conventional diesel, which makes it safer to handle, store, and transport.

For more information on the benefits of biodiesel, please visit the AFDC.

Can My Vehicle Run on Biodiesel?
Most major diesel engine manufacturers have formally endorsed the use biodiesel up to B20 by writing its compliance into their equipment warranties. An extensive list of diesel vehicles warrantied at different blend levels can be found here. Additionally, blends of up to 5% biodiesel (B5) meet the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Material) standards for diesel fuel and don’t require any special considerations.
Biodiesel_Mercedes

Copy of Pakkanen
How Does Biodiesel Perform? Even in the Cold?
In diesel engines, biodiesel blends operate nearly identically to petroleum diesel. Blends of biodiesel as low as 1% even help to improve fuel lubricity, reducing wear and tear on the engine. With regard to horsepower, torque, and mileage, B20 achieves similar levels to those of diesel. Even in freezing temperatures, biodiesel blends can be used as long as they have been treated with the appropriate additives by their manufacturer. For more information about biodiesel in freezing temperatures, check out the Cold Weather Guide from Biodiesel®.

Where Can I Find Biodiesel & How Much Does It Cost?
Biodiesel is publicly available in Jackson at Pump #5 of the Shell station on Broadway. Generally, they offer B20 from mid-April to mid-September and B10 in the colder months. They supply BQ9000, the highest quality biodiesel available, and despite a 5 year Rocky Mountain average price 20¢/DGE higher than those of conventional diesel(Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report), Shell’s B20 prices are  currently equal to that of conventional diesel . For real time availability of biodiesel throughout the country, check the AFDC Station Locator .

BD_Map

Are There Potential Complications?
Unlike conventional diesel, biodiesel is a strong solvent and acts as a cleaning agent. As such, it may dissolve and dislodge any petroleum deposits that have accumulated from conventional diesel use and flush this residual diesel gunk into fuel filters. Therefore, filters should be checked often during the transition period to biodiesel and replaced when necessary. Because this maintenance can be relatively labor and and time intensive, it is not recommended to switch back and forth between biodiesel blends and 100% conventional diesel.

Who Else Is Using Biodiesel?

  • EcoTour Adventures fuels all vehicles with Shell’s biodiesel
  • JHMR fuels all Snow Cat groomers with B10
  • Idaho National Lab fuels almost 100 transit buses with B20 year round
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Electric Vehicle FAQs

There are many alternative fuel options available, and choosing the most appropriate for your lifestyle can be a challenge. However, electric drive vehicle (EDV) technologically is becoming more reliable, practical, and convenient, and as a result their adoption rate is growing fast. Particularly in areas with relatively clean, very cheap power generation, such as YTCEC’s region, EDVs are enormously effective in reducing petroleum consumption, harmful emissions, and fuel costs. But EDVs come in a variety of configurations, and determining which best fits your needs can make your head spin. The following FAQs and answers should help you sort through this challenge and lead you to the best EDV for your needs.

What Is the Difference Between the Various EDVs?

        HEVs

icon_basics_hybrid
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have conventional engines and are only fueled using conventional gasoline or diesel. The efficiency of these vehicles is improved by a regenerative braking system that charges a battery to power an electric motor that assists the drive train.

      PHEVs

icon_basics_plugin
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are fueled with conventional gasoline or diesel, and as the name implies, with electricity. PHEVS also have regenerative braking to maximize their efficiencies, but plugging into the grid helps to displace even more petroleum use by utilizing increasingly clean electricity.

       EVs

icon_basics_electric
Electric vehicles (EVs) have no internal combustion engine, use no petroleum fuel, and operate entirely on electricity. As such, the range of these vehicles is limited to the amount of energy stored in their batteries. However, if the electricity it utilizes is renewably derived there are effectively no emissions.

What Are the Environmental Advantages of Electric Vehicles?
Too often, it is assumed that shifting from gasoline to electricity will simply transfer emissions from the car’s tailpipe to the power plant’s smoke stack. However, there are in fact, no grids in the US where electrically fueled vehicles are dirtier than gas or diesel. In addition to this head start, grids will continue to become cleaner as states reach their renewable portfolio standards. Even today, the majority of the electricity consumed in our region is produced from hydropower making our grid-powered vehicles significantly cleaner than petroleum in both criteria pollutants like SOX and NOX, as well as the primary greenhouse gas, CO2.GridMix Such a renewable heavy grid mix helps to generate electricity with 30% fewer carbon emissions than the nation’s average. One can see that this clean grid mix further reduces CO2e emissions from EVs and PHEVs relative to conventional vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and even plug-in vehicles powered by the nation’s average grid mix.EVandGASHow Far Can I Drive?
Because HEVs and PHEVs operate on conventional fuel and have the typical range of a conventional vehicle, there are few operating concerns for these vehicles. However, EVs do not have a fuel tank and cannot gas up at the nearest station. Today, EVs have ranges from 62 to 208 miles on a full charge, and luckily, 95% of trips taken by rural Americans are under 50 miles, offering enormous functionality of an EV, especially in households with more than one vehicle.

Electric Vehicle Make and Range According to the AFDC Buyer’s Guide 2015

BMW i3 – 81 mi             Chevy Spark – 82 mi          Fiat 500e – 87 mi
Ford Focus – 76 mi          Honda Fit – 82 mi                 Kia Soul – 93 mi
Nissan Leaf – 84 mi Volkswagen eGolf – 87 mi Testla Model S – 208 mi

How Long Will it Take to Charge?
To fully charge EVs and PHEVs, they must be connected to a source of electricity. The options available are categorized at three different levels, based on their charge capacity.

  • The first, Level 1 is the slowest option and operates on alternating current (AC). Any standard 120V household outlet will suffice, and the vehicle will earn 2 to 5 miles for every 1 hour charging.
  • Level 2 charges run at 240V AC, which can be installed at your home and are increasingly common at workplaces and public and private parking areas. At 10 to 20 miles per hour of charging, 8 hours will generally fully recharge the electric vehicles currently available. This can be accomplished at the office during the workday or overnight at home.
  • Level 3 fast chargers are by far the most expensive, but operating at 480V of direct current, they can provide 60 to 80 miles of range in only 20 minutes of charging – just enough to grab a coffee and a bite.

Where Can I Charge?
In addition to any Level 1, standard 120V plug, EVs can charge at any of the regional, Level 2 charging infrastructure. This network is growing, and the connectivity is improving, easing range anxiety. Additionally, more charging infrastructure helps to increase the number of miles PHEVs can operate on clean electricity. The map below shows the current charging stations (white pins) as well as the predicted locations of six planned stations (yellow pins) throughout the three states in which YTCEC operates, ID, MT, and WY.
EV Charging ID MT WYTo find real-time details for each station, such as the charging station level and the exact location, please visit the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Station Locator.

What Will Extreme Temperatures Do To a Vehicle’s Electric Range?
The Greater Yellowstone Region experiences extreme annual temperature fluctuations. Such highs and lows do have an impact on battery capacity and thus, vehicle ranges.  In an analysis by Idaho National Laboratory, three EVs were tested at a cold, mild, and hot temperature all while maintaining 72°F inside the car. Cold temperatures reduced range by about half, depending on the vehicle, and hot temperatures had a lesser, but still significant reduction on range.EV_City_Range_INL_ShirkHowever, much of this loss is due to maintaining a comfortable climate inside the cab. And while locals can deal with a little heat and even more cold, there are certain steps you can take to create a comfortable driving climate and ensure your heater or AC doesn’t drain your battery. First, park your vehicle in a garage to avoid it from getting too hot or too cold. Second, preheat or precool while you are still plugged in. Many EVs are integrated with apps that will allow you to do this remotely, and it ensures your battery stays charged while your vehicle gets to a comfortable temperature. Finally, when heating, use seat heaters as they are more efficient than space heating.

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May Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I improve my gas mileage while driving this summer?

Answer: Whether you are taking a summer road trip or just running errands around town, there are things you can do to improve your fuel economy and save money on fuel in the summertime.

You may notice an increase in your fuel economy as the weather gets warmer. This is because vehicle engines, transmissions and other components take less time to warm up and summer gasoline blends can have slightly more energy per gallon than winter blends. However, if you use your air conditioning (AC) a lot or drive with the windows down, you might actually see your fuel economy drop.

AC is the main contributor to reduced fuel economy in the summertime. In fact, using the AC can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by as much as 25%, or even more if you are driving a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). Driving with the windows down can also reduce fuel economy due to greater aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) on the vehicle. Though this has a small effect on fuel economy, aerodynamic drag is more apparent when driving at the highway speeds typical for road trips.

The following tips can help you use the AC more efficiently and therefore improve fuel economy in the summer:

  • Read the owner’s manual for detailed information on how your vehicle’s AC system works and how to use it efficiently.
  • Park your vehicle in shady areas or use a sunshade to keep the interior from getting too hot.
  • Do not use the AC more than needed. If you need to use the AC, avoid using the “max” setting for extended periods.
  • If you are driving at high speeds, use the AC instead of rolling down the windows. If the vehicle is too hot, you may lower the car windows to expel hot air for the first few minutes. Once the hot air has left the vehicle, switch to using the AC.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and more if the AC is on. Do not idle the vehicle to cool it down before a trip; most AC systems actually cool the vehicle faster while driving.
  • PEV owners, pre-cool your vehicle with the AC while still plugged in. Since PEVs use battery power to provide AC, it can drain the vehicle’s batteries and reduce the vehicle’s overall range. If you need to use the AC to cool down your PEV, try to do so while the vehicle is still charging.

 The following tips should be used year-round to improve fuel economy:

  • Use cruise control while driving on highways to maintain a consistent speed and conserve fuel.
  • Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Vehicles with heavier loads tend to have reduced fuel economy. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce fuel economy by 1%.
  • Avoid transporting cargo on the rooftop of the vehicle. Traveling with cargo on the roof increases wind resistance and can significantly lower your fuel economy. Rear-mounted cargo has a much smaller effect on fuel economy than rooftop cargo.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and heavy braking) can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds. This informational video shows real-world effects of aggressive driving on fuel economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zWXwqqqHm0.
  • Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Tires that are not inflated to the proper pressure can reduce fuel economy by 0.3% for every one pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure in all of the tires. Having your tires inflated to the proper pressure is also safer and can help tires last longer.
  • Pay attention to the speed limit. Not only is this a safe practice, but gas mileage tends to decrease when driving at speeds above 50 miles per hour.

For more information on how to improve your fuel economy, please refer to the following FuelEconomy.gov websites:

Questions? Contact:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

technicalresponse@icfi.com

800-254-6735

Posted in Fuels, Idle Reduction, Sustainability, Vehicles |

Alternative Fuel Technical Workshops

In conjunction with the rebate program, the Coalition is also hosting a set of alternative fuel vehicle workshops throughout the region. At each workshop, a panel of speakers will present on their technology of expertise and answer questions pertaining to the practical concerns of operating and maintaining alternative fuel vehicles. To access one of the $3,000 propane or electric vehicle rebates, attendance of one of the workshops is required.

Workshop times, locations, and speakers are as follows:

  • Wednesday, April 15th, Bozeman Public Library, Bozeman, MT 9:00am-1:00pm. To RSVP, click here.

    • Tad Pearson
      • Fleet Manager, ID National Laboratory – Biodiesel
    • Howard Haines
      • Environmental Engineer, MT Dept. of Environmental Quality – Biodiesel
    • Larry Osgood
      • Consulting Solutions and Rocky Mountain Propane Association – Propane
    • Matt Shirk
      • Research Engineer, Energy Storage and Transportation Systems ID National Laboratory – Electric Vehicles
  • Friday, April 17th, Teton County Public Library, Jackson, WY 10:00am-2:00pm. To RSVP, click here.

    • Larry Osgood
      • Consulting Solutions and Rocky Mountain Propane Association – Propane
    • Tracey Hind
      •  Alternative Fuel Automotive Instructor, Western Wyoming Community College – CNG
    • Tad Pearson
      •  Fleet Manager, ID National Laboratory – Biodiesel
    • Matt Shirk
      • Research Engineer, Energy Storage and Transportation Systems ID National Laboratory – Electric Vehicle
                                 
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February 2015 Newsletter

Click here for our latest newsletter.

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Transition Streets

transition_streetsWant to learn simple, practical changes to your home and habits to live more sustainably? Ready to begin a journey to a lifestyle that uses less energy? Check out Transition Streets!

Continue reading

Posted in Sustainability |

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebate Program

The Coalition is pleased to announce two new alternative fuel vehicle rebate programs!

Applications accepted now until Tuesday, March 31st.

Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Rebate

The Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition was awarded a grant from the Teton Conservation District (TCD) to provide educational and financial support to regional organizations and individuals to assist in their purchase of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV). More specifically, the program aims to displace petroleum consumption by replacing conventional vehicles with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and to help build a fleet to utilize the CNG fueling station that will be installed in the spring of 2015 at Shervin’s Independent Oil. Accompanying educational platforms include workshops discussing CNG vehicles and are open to interested participants free of charge. The rebate program will provide cost shares for 12 EPA certified original equipment manufacturer CNG vehicles or EPA certified CNG conversions of conventional vehicles. EPA certified CNG conversion information can be found at http://www.ngvamerica.org/vehicles/vehicle-availability/. Each entity is eligible to apply for a rebate to assist in their purchase of or conversion to a CNG vehicle. The financial support will cover 50% of the marginal increase in price of the OEM CNG vehicle over the conventionally fueled model, or 50% of the cost of the EPA certified conversion kit and installation to CNG, up to a maximum of $2,000.00.

CNG Rebate Guidelines

CNG Rebate Application

Alternative Fuels Vehicle Rebate

The Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition (YTCEC) was awarded a grant through the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Source Reduction Assistance (SRA) to provide educational and financial support to regional organizations and individuals to employ more efficient driving techniques and assist in the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles in the form of rebates. Educational platforms include workshops and are open to interested participants free of charge. Rebates are available to those who attend at least one workshop. Financial support is on the order of a $3,000.00 cost share towards the purchase of an alternative fuel vehicle to displace petroleum and replace a conventionally fueled vehicle. The program will support propane and electric vehicle technologies.

Alt Fuels Vehicle Rebate Guidelines

Alt Fuels Vehicle Rebate Application

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January Question of the Month

Question of the Month: How can I search for, update, and add new alternative fueling station information using the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator?

Answer: The Alternative Fueling Station Locator (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) is the most used tool on the AFDC and was recently improved to include new options that may change the way users search for and update station information. You can now filter search results by several fuel-specific fields, such as connector type for electric vehicle charging and fill pressure for natural gas fueling. Read on for more details and information on how to update an existing station or add a new station to the Station Locator.

Searching for Alternative Fueling Stations

Previously, Station Locator users could select “more search options” to look for stations with a certain status/access type (e.g., existing, planned, or private), owner type, payment methods, and electric charger types (e.g., Level 2, DC fast charge). The Station Locator now allows users to search filter by fuel-specific fields corresponding to each alternative fuel. First, select a specific fuel type from the “All Fuels” drop-down menu, and then click on “more search options” to choose from the following filters:

  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

o   Fill type – the type of dispensing capability available at the station (e.g., fast-fill, time-fill)

o   Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the CNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)

o   Fill pressure – the pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure available at the station (e.g., 2400, 3000, 3600)

  • Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)

o   Charger type – the type of electric chargers available at the station (e.g., Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast, Legacy chargers)

o   Connectors and outlets – the type of outlets (e.g., NEMA 14-50, NEMA 5-15, NEMA 5-20) and connectors  (e.g., J1772, CHAdeMO, J1772 Combo, Tesla) available for charging

o   Networks – the name of the EVSE network

  • Ethanol (E85)

o   Mid-level blend availability – stations that provide mid-level ethanol blends, such as E30

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

o   Vehicle accessibility – the maximum vehicle size that can physically access the LNG fueling station (e.g., light-, medium-, heavy-duty vehicles)

  • Propane (LPG)

o   Vehicle-specific service – stations that cater to propane vehicles by offering a vehicle fuel-specific price and accept credit cards

Updating Station Information

Once you have located a station of interest, click on the station pinpoint on the map and select “More details” for even more information about the station. If you would like to report updates to the station, such as additional fuel types available, click on “Report a change” in the top right corner of the station details page. Users will receive an email confirmation after reporting updates, and the submission goes directly to the Clean Cities Technical Response Service (TRS) for review and verification. Anyone reporting an update should expect the TRS to contact you or a station point of contact before the changes will appear on the Station Locator.

Adding New Fueling Stations

If you have searched the Station Locator, including private and planned stations, and would like to report one that is not listed, use the New Station Submission form (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/places/new). You can navigate to this form by clicking “Submit New Station” in the top right corner of the Station Locator map. Please provide as much detail as possible in the submission form, and use the “Comments” section as needed to include additional information. As with the station update process mentioned above, you will receive an automated email confirmation and the TRS will likely contact you to verify information before adding the station to the Station Locator.

Alternatively, you may submit new or updated station information by emailing the TRS directly at technicalresponse@icfi.com. If you have several new stations or updates to submit, this method is preferred, as the TRS can provide you with an Excel spreadsheet template.

For more information on how fueling stations are maintained and updated in the Station Locator, see the AFDC About the Alternative Fueling Station Data page (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/data_methods_stations.html).

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“Technological Tour de Force”

Can the high distinction of “Best Overall Car” from Consumer Reports really belong to a vehicle with no emissions? Why, yes, yes it can. The revolutionary Tesla Model S has received global praise and according to Consumer Reports’ test rating, “it outscores every other car.” Continue reading

Posted in Vehicles |

Idling Revealed

Each year, cars, trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles in the US waste an enormous amount of fuel running their engines while their vehicles are stationary. Also known as idling, this act effectively reduces vehicle fuel efficiency to 0 mpg and nationwide, wastes 6 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent annually (Alternative Fuels Data Center). That’s enough gas to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, or if you were to use it to fuel a 2014 Honda Civic, you could drive it to the moon and back half a million times. More pragmatically, however, 6 billion gallons of fuel can also be represented monetarily as $21 billion.

But who is to blame for wasting all that fuel? Buses and tractor-trailers certainly contribute, but of those 6 billion gallons of wasted fuel, passenger vehicles, that you and I drive, are responsible for roughly half. Collectively, owners of passenger vehicles are throwing away more than $10 billion each year, not to mention, needlessly emitting harmful NOX, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide that lead to air quality concerns and increased incidences of smog, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. With regard to human health, the CO2 emissions are more benign, but in terms of global health, they have larger implications through the propagation of climate change.

To combat this wasteful action, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy security and sustainability, the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program has been working hard to reduce idling. In 2012, Clean Cities saved roughly 30.5 million gallons of gasoline equivalent. At $3.50/gal, that’s about $107 million and enough energy to drive a 2014 Honda Civic across the US more than 417,000 times.

While this seems like, and is in fact, an improvement, it is humbling to note that 30.5 million gallons represents only 0.5% of all the fuel wasted in the previous year. That’s a sad slice of pie.

 wasted_saved_fuel

So, what more can be done? Recent research at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, determined that idling for more than 10 seconds consumes more gasoline and emits more exhaust than turning off your engine and restarting it. Also, the DOE Clean Cities program reassures us that turning on and off your vehicle more frequently won’t wear out your starter. Many of these misconceptions are relics of older vehicles with finicky engines and carburetors that had to be warmed and were easily subject to flooding, but today’s high tech vehicles will undoubtedly restart. So, tap into that unused $10 billion and turn your vehicle off as you wait to pick up a friend or run in to grab your coffee.

 

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