Fleet News

Cornish fleet opts for greener diesel

A CORNISH authority plans to expand the number of vehicles on its fleet using biodiesel following a successful trial in tough weather conditions.

Kerrier District Council (KDC) has been using up to 15% biodiesel, made from farm crops such as cereals, oilseeds and sugar beet, as well as recycled vegetable oil.

The fuel has been used in its fleet of vehicles, which includes about 25 vans and pick-ups.

Its findings are that it produces between 50% and 60% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels and increases fuel efficiency, but the council claims it has cost no more than its regular fuel.

KDC tested the fuel, supplied by Mitchell & Webber, on its fleet of sweepers and vans for the past month. Despite wintry weather, there have been no performance problems and the council is now considering upping its use of green fuels to blends of more than 30%.

Andy Mead, direct services manager at the authority, said: ‘The recent cold snap has been a stern test of our vehicles’ reliability, so I’m delighted to say the new, environmentally- friendly fuels have been working well.

‘On the basis of these results, we can plan further increases in the proportion of biodiesel we use.’

Mead said the amount of biodiesel in the mix would be gradually increased as the weather improved, because of concerns about the freezing point of diesel when mixed with biofuels. He said: ‘In the spring we hope to go up to 20% and in the summer we’d hope to get to 30%.’

The warranties of the council’s vehicles will not be affected, he added, because 99% of the fleet is older than two years or restored from stolen and recovered machines.

Robert Weedon, director of Mitchell and Webber and a member of the Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership Transport Working Group, said: ‘Kerrier is showing the way for other organisations, so I’m delighted to hear its trial is going so well, especially given the terrible weather recently.’

The trial comes weeks after the Government announced plans for 5% of all fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010 (Fleet NewsNet, November 16).

The move, known as the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, is predicted to save one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Most manufacturers accept a 5% mix without any warranty impact.

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