Tips for Using Biofuels in Your Corporate Fleet

Converting a corporate fleet to biofuels is one way to reduce emissions, and improve your corporate social responsibility. Biofuels are not a panacea by any means, but can be locally grown, locally processed, and are completely renewable, helping to break your company’s addiction to oil.

For smaller companies looking to do biofuels for deliveries, sales calls, or other local business needs, they might consider picking up a diesel vehicle and committing to biodiesel. Biodiesel is typically made from grease, used oils, or high oil content agricultural products like rapeseed (canola), but can also be made from algae. It’s easy enough to find a work vehicle that takes biodiesel–simply find a diesel vehicle. B100, as pure biodiesel is called, or B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% diesel) can be used interchangeably in that vehicle at any time with regular diesel fuel.

What are the considerations in switching to biodiesel? According to Pacific Biodiesel, it’s a fairly seamless process:

The main thing to remember is that biodiesel is cleaner than diesel fuel, and as such, it will help to clean your engine and other internal parts (fuel lines, etc.). As a result, biodiesel may dislodge gunky deposits that diesel fuel has been depositing in your engine, which means you might have to replace your fuel filter fairly soon after the transition. Pacific Biodiesel recommends buying a fuel filter and carrying a spare in your trunk in case deposits do come loose and cause performance issues.

Ironically, this is not unlike the problems some people face with clogged arteries. Blood clots caused by high saturated fat diets and unhealthy lifestyles can sometimes break free from arterial walls and cause health issues. Biodiesel, then, is the artery cleansing anti-cholesterol medication.

They also recommend idling the car for a minute upon startup and end-of-driving, slower acceleration from red lights and stop signs, and not letting the tank get below 1/4 full. Of course, these are recommendations made for conventional fuel vehicles, as well, so as noted…a switch to biodiesel is fairly straightforward.

What about finding biodiesel? Surf on over to biodiesel.org for a partial listing of gas stations that serve biodiesel, or do a simple google search for biodiesel in your area. You might be surprised at how readily available it is.

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Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.