Biodiesel batches fail, but Breck not giving up on alternative fuel
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge was the poster child for biodiesel use two years ago when fleet maintenance began using the environmentally friendly mixture in its diesel vehicles.The experiment was an instant success, putting the mountain town into the national spotlight.This year, however, something has gone awry.Two batches of the fuel were found possibly to have been mixed incorrectly, resulting in instant clogging of fuel filters in the town’s diesel vehicles. A second batch delivered was found to have the same characteristics and was returned to the supplier.Dan Bell, assistant public works director, immediately yanked the product, replacing it with regular diesel fuel until the source of the problem could be found.In the interim, he has worked with a number of agencies, including the National Biodiesel Board and the National Renewable Energies Lab, testing filters and obtaining information from other cities about their biodiesel challenges to fix the problem.”We’ve found a number of cases that are similar, but haven’t been able to conclusively determine if the causes are related,” Bell said. “We believe the cause was a combination of out-of-specification fuel and blending procedures.”He hasn’t given up, however.”We operate on the premise that the use of biodiesel is a priority in Breckenridge and that we can – and should – maintain a leadership position and make every effort to continue with its use,” Bell said. “There is enough evidence that leads us to believe it’s possible to continue using biodiesel successfully.”Town Councilmember Jim Lamb, who was instrumental in getting the town to try the alternative fuel, is confident the solution will be found.”It’s working in other places,” Lamb said. “It may not even be a cold-weather thing. I’m not sure this wouldn’t happen in Denver. Our problem is that we seem to have received a couple of bad batches of fuel. We need fuel to be reliable, and when there are some questions, we have to pull it.”He, too, wants the town fleet staff to continue to monitor the mixtures.”It’s not a failure,” Lamb said. “It’s a bump in the road. We will get it straightened out. This is something good for the community. It’s something the community stands behind. It’s good for the environment – and in using it, we’re doing everything that’s good.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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