There’s something fishy in Halifax

HALIFAX, (April 26, 2004) — It’s been brewed with soybean oil, french-fry grease, and even flowers. But there’s something fishy about the biodiesel blend the City of Halifax is stirring up for its fleet of buses.

The city has recently added an Atlantic twist to conventional biodiesel, by testing 20 buses that run on a blend of 80 per cent diesel fuel and 20 per cent fish oil, Canadian Press reports.

Biodiesel is a non-toxic, animal or plant oil-based fuel that can increase diesel engine life while dramatically reducing emissions. It can be burned in any standard, unmodified diesel engine in pure form (B100) or in a blend with petroleum diesel. However, in colder climates, a blend of either B50 or B20 (20 per cent biodiesel and 80 per cent petroleum diesel) is the most common form for commercial use in vehicles.

Using B20, a diesel engine is said to deliver similar torque, horsepower, and fuel economy as petroleum-powered diesels, yet cuts unburned hydrocarbon emissions, which cause greenhouses gases, by as much as 30 per cent. It does not reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, although biodiesel’s lack of sulphur allows the use of NOx controls that can’t be used with conventional diesel fuel.

Rather than the traditional soybean blend, the city of Halifax decided it would put an East Coast signature on its biodiesel by ordering it with extra anchovies. The fuel blend is supplied by Wilson Fuels, which gets its fish oil from Ocean Nutrition, a Mulgrave, N.S., health products manufacturer.

The city — which hopes to eventually increase the fish oil ratio to B50 — joins Toronto as one of the few Canadian municipalities that have experimented with biodiesel in city utility trucks. Toronto Hydro in 2002 switched its 400- vehicle fleet to B20, noting a 27 per-cent drop in emissions.

The City of Brampton, Ont. became Canada’s first municipality to commit to the ongoing use of biodiesel soon after.

— with files from Canadian Press

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