DTE Energy is lightening the environmental footprint of its 800 diesel-fueled trucks and service vehicles by converting the fleet to cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel.
Biodiesel is an alternative fuel produced from domestic renewable resources such as vegetable oil and animal fat. Biodiesel can be mixed with petroleum diesel to create a blended fuel that can be used in diesel vehicles with no significant engine or fuel-system modifications required.
"Converting to biodiesel is a win-win for DTE Energy and the environment," said Bill Pettit, director of fleet administration and operation for the company. "Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable and nontoxic. By using this recycled fuel, we'll be able to reduce emissions and help move DTE Energy toward a 'greener' motor vehicle fleet."
DTE Energy began using biodiesel in its vehicles earlier this year, blending five percent of the renewable fuel with 95 percent conventional diesel. The company is gradually increasing the blend to 20 percent biodiesel -- the industry standard -- and expects to complete that conversion by mid- year.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 20 percent blend of biodiesel fuel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent compared to petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel also reduces particulate matter -- an emission linked to asthma and other diseases -- and carbon monoxide, when compared to conventional diesel fuel.
"DTE Energy has 800 diesel-fueled vehicles ranging from construction equipment and bucket trucks to light duty vehicles," Pettit said. "Converting our fleet to biodiesel is the environmental equivalent of taking about 120 of those vehicles off the road and out of service," Pettit said.
Along with the environmental benefits associated with biodiesel, DTE Energy also expects to save almost $600,000 annually.
"Biodiesel is currently less expensive than petroleum diesel, and requires virtually no modifications of existing vehicles, parts inventories and refueling facilities," he said. It's simply the best greenhouse gas mitigation strategy for today's medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleets."
According to Pettit, switching to biodiesel fuel makes perfect sense for DTE Energy's motor vehicle operation, and is consistent with the company's overall approach to environmental management.
"At DTE Energy, we believe that our obligation goes beyond the delivery of safe, reliable and economical energy products and service," Pettit said. "We also have a responsibility to manage our facilities, land and equipment in a manner that minimizes our impact on the environment, and that is protective of our employees, customers and surrounding communities."
RKA Petroleum, based in Romulus, Mich., will be supplying the biodiesel fuel to DTE Energy. Established in 1956, RKA is a privately held family business that is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise and is recognized as a certified BQ-9000 Marketer. RKA distributes more than 325 million gallons of fuel annually through its network of retail dealers, commercial businesses and job sites, government and military customers, and its pipeline terminal operation.
DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, coal and gas midstream, unconventional gas production and energy trading. Information about DTE Energy is available at http://www.dteenergy.com .
Biodiesel Fact Sheet
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications to the engine or fuel system.
Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The use of biodiesel in a conventional diesel engine results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter compared to emissions from diesel fuel. In addition, the exhaust emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates (major components of acid rain) from biodiesel are essentially eliminated compared to diesel.
Biodiesel is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel can be used as a pure fuel or blended with petroleum in any percentage. B20 (a blend of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent petroleum diesel) has demonstrated significant environmental benefits.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 20 percent blend of biodiesel fuel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent compared to petroleum diesel fuel. The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when biodiesel is burned is recycled by growing plants, which are later processed into fuel.
Scientific research confirms that biodiesel exhaust has a less harmful impact on human health than petroleum diesel fuel. Pure biodiesel emissions have decreased levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and nitrited PAH compounds that have been identified as potential cancer causing compounds. Biodiesel also reduces particulate matter -- an emission linked to asthma and other diseases -- and carbon monoxide, when compared to conventional diesel fuel.
Biodiesel is registered as a fuel and fuel additive with the Environmental Protection Agency and meets clean diesel standards established by the California Air Resources Board. Neat (100 percent) biodiesel has been designated as an alternative fuel by the Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation.