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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

30/05/2001

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

NULL

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

San Francisco pumps start dispensing vegetable oil
San Francisco pumps start dispensing vegetable oil-based fuelSAN FRANCISCO, 5/29/2001 (AP) - The most distinctive thing spewed into theair by biodiesel, a vegetable oil-based fuel, is the smell of frenchfries.And that's what some residents here soon will be smelling, since SanFrancisco has become the nation's first major city with a public biodieselpumping station.The station opened Wednesday, making the alternative fuel available to thepublic. A similar station had opened in Sparks, Nev., on Tuesday.While biodiesel avoids the release of carbon monoxide and the smallparticles released by burning traditional diesel, it doesn't cut down onsmog-causing nitrogen oxide.The fuel is made from either recycled vegetable oil from restaurants, orfrom soybean oil. The San Francisco operation offers fuel that is 100percent biodiesel, but a 20 percent biodiesel-80 percent petroleum dieselis available at other biodiesel facilities.Diesel engines can use the fuel without any modification, and itcontributes to the life of the engine by increasing lubrication so movingparts won't break down as easily, said Robert Skinner, a spokesman forWorld Energy Alternatives, the company providing the biodiesel to the SanFrancisco station.But biodiesel has some drawbacks. It's more expensive than regular diesel,selling for about $3.15 a gallon in San Francisco and for about $1.62 agallon in Sparks. It also causes a slight drop in fuel economy.The fuel is used primarily by fleets of vehicles such as school buses,Skinner said."We've got about 60 large-scale fleets using biodiesel, from the U.S. AirForce to the New Jersey transit system," he said.Berkeley already uses the fuel in its recycling trucks, and it is beingused by the San Francisco International Airport in shuttles. Nationalparks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone, run their vehicles on it, too.Not only is the fuel cleaner burning, it can help federal fleets meet aregulation that says they must reduce their annual petroleum consumptionby 20 percent by 2005.The federal government estimates sales of the fuel reached 6.7 milliongallons in 2000 and could reach 20 million gallons this year.And prices have come down some because of competition, as well as cheapertransportation and a subsidy for soybean biodiesel producers, according tothe U.S. Department of Energy.Biodiesel dates back more than 100 years, and peanut oil actually was thefirst type of fuel used by Rudolf Diesel to power his first engine in1895."As we move into a time when petroleum is not so readily available, we'returning back the clock," Skinner said. "It's a renewable fuel. It closesthe carbon cycle. It's the most effective greenhouse gas reductiontechnology for existing engines."