In defence of biodiesel

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Dear Editor,

(Regarding the Biodiesel coverage in the July issue.)

Our company has operated four Class 8 Freightliner tractors (Cummins, Mercedes, Caterpillar engines) over the last three years on various blends of biodiesel, including 100 per cent biodiesel during the summer months with loads of 140,000 lbs. Our drivers prefer pulling their loads (of diesel fuel by the way) running on 100 per cent biodiesel. They find the trucks run smoother, quieter, odour free, and have better power. Fuel efficiency is not, nor has it ever been an issue. We’ve actually improved significantly while running on biodiesel, but attribute this to better driver practices rather than the biodiesel. No warranty or maintenance problems either.

It is accepted that biodiesel is cleaner than diesel in every pollutant, except, possibly one – NOx. The worst case projection for NOx increase is a mere 0.2 per cent for a two per cent blend of biodiesel. Since NOx interacts with other pollutants to form smog, and biodiesel by volume reduces these other pollutants by 50 per cent and more, concerns about NOx are simply misguided.

Diesel mechanics and diesel truck operators experience up to a 47 per cent increase in lung cancer (visit Children riding diesel fuelled school buses face an increased risk of lung cancer too. Biodiesel reduces this risk, significantly, in higher blends.

Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gasses by as much as 92 per cent over diesel fuel on a per unit basis.

The issue of engine warranty is a “tempest in a teapot.” The engine manufacturers don’t warranty any engine failure if it is a result of poor fuel – diesel or biodiesel. The biodiesel industry warrants the engine if it is a result of the biodiesel.

Statements suggesting increased fuel prices are also misleading. A two per cent mix of biodiesel by volume with diesel if mandated by the government will not result in ANY significant change in fuel pricing. One large biodiesel plant is already under construction in Hamilton. The rack price of 100 per cent biodiesel is currently the same as diesel at Rothsay’s in Montreal, and expected to be the same (if not lower) in Hamilton.

The decision to use biodiesel is in our view, a “no-brainer.”

Ken Canning

FIBA Canning Inc.

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