Monday, November 28, 2005

Puget Sound Clean Cities Meeting on Nov 16

I attended this meeting, and am posting the official notes below. I also took notes and may be able to answer specific questions if you email me.

November 16, 2005
Meeting Notes
-Welcome and Agenda Overview: Mark Brady (Coordinator, PSCCC)
-Update on Senator Cantwell’s Activities: Bill Dunbar (State Director, Sen. Cantwell)
-Overview of West Coast Collaborative and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Efforts: Peter Murchie (EPA) and Dennis McLarren (PSCAA)
-Update on State Legislature Activities: Representative Jeff Morris
-Panel Discussion on Biodiesel Quality Control: Kim Lyons (WSU Energy Program), Steve Hennessey (City of Tacoma), Steve Krueger (Washington Department of General Administration), Mark Tegen (Pacific Functional Fluids), Leland Tong (National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission)
-Presentation on the State of the Coalition: Mark Brady (Coordinator, PSCCC)
-Presentation of Coalition Awards: Dave Kerrigan (City of Seattle)
-Grant and Funding Discussion: Roxanne Dempsey (US Department of Energy, Western Regional Office)and Ann Byfield (Washington Department of Ecology)
-Status of Ethanol in the Northwest: Mark Brady (Coordinator, PSCCC)

Mark Brady welcomed everyone to the meeting, quickly went over some logistical matters and went through the day’s agenda. He then introduced Bill Dunbar, Senator Maria Cantwell’s State Director, who was there to speak about the Senator’s efforts around biofuels and related energy issues. Bill described the Senator’s efforts to encourage Washington farmers to grow the feedstocks for biofuel refiners as well as encouraging the construction of plants to produce the fuel. Bill also described some of the provisions of the recently passed federal Energy
Policy Act and what these may mean to the biofuel industry, including tax incentives for the production of alternative fuels and purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. He also described some of the Senator’s other energy work, such as fighting to prevent oil drilling in ANWR and fighting increased tanker traffic in Puget Sound.
Peter Murchie of EPA Region 10 and Dennis McLarren of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency provided a description of their organizations’ efforts to reduce diesel emissions. Peter Murchie described the West Coast Collaborative, which is a partnership of federal, state and local government; the private sector; and environmental groups in California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, Canada and Mexico committed to reducing diesel
emissions. The Collaborative was a new concept that is now being duplicated in other regions, which are all working under US EPA’s National Clean Diesel Initiative. Peter briefly explained some of the group’s activities and described a recent round of funding designed to leverage money provided by US EPA with other monies to achieve significant emissions reductions up and down the coast. Finally, Peter explained that additional moneys were appropriated in US EPA’s 2006 budget and announcements would be made soon about processes to apply
for these funds. Dennis McLarren described the Air Agency’s efforts to reduce diesel emissions, particularly the Agency’s Diesel Solutions program. This voluntary effort brought ultra-low sulfur diesel into Western Washington well before EPA mandates and convinced a wide range of public and private fleets to retrofit diesel vehicles to achieve considerable emissions reductions. Another aspect of the effort is the Clean School Bus Program that has retrofitted over three-quarters of the existing school bus fleet statewide. The Diesel Solutions
program has been so successful that it has served as a model for similar programs in other areas of the country. State Representative Jeff Morris spoke next. Jeff chairs the House Technology, Energy & Communications Committee, sits on the Transportation Committee and chaired the recent joint House-Senate legislative work session on alternative fuels. He described some of the things that might happen in the upcoming legislative session and discussed the implications of the short-session on efforts to pass legislation. Jeff explained that there
was a lot of interest in biofuels so there may be a variety of proposals. In addition to legislators’ efforts, the Governor’s office is preparing a package that will likely include biofuels. There will be an effort to harmonize people’s different plans prior to the start of the session to allow enough time to pass legislation. This is particularly a concern with the upcoming session because it is only 60 days, which will require fast movement to get legislation through. Jeff expected some state funds to be used for research relating to biofuels, particularly to explore the possibility of using oilseed crops for both biodiesel and ethanol. Oil from the seeds would go into
biodiesel production; residual plant material would be used in cellulosic ethanol production. An oilseed crusher was another possible state expenditure. Jeff also described a couple of potential future efforts – first, a project to evaluate the feasibility of an alternative fuel highway through Western Washington to join with similar efforts in California and British Columbia and, second, the potential use of carbon dioxide mitigation funds from future power plant construction for transportation projects.
Following a break, the panel discussion on biodiesel quality began. Kim Lyons of the WSU Energy Program served as moderator of the discussion and set the stage for the discussion. He stated that some users around the region had recently run into problems with biodiesel use and that no one was quite sure what was the cause of the problems. He then asked each panel member to introduce himself and tell a little bit about his experience with
biodiesel. Steve Hennessey of the City of Tacoma was the first to speak. He explained that he has been using B20 in garbage trucks for approximately four years. The first three years were great. In February 2005, problems started with black slime in filters that was determined to be a glycerin problem. Trucks were breaking down around the City so they temporarily stopped using biodiesel and demanded additional quality control measures at the rail car entry point including a small lab. The program was restarted and ran until last week when similar
problems surfaced again so they re-suspended the program. At the time of the meeting, they were awaiting test results to decide how to proceed.
Next, Steve Krueger briefly described the State’s new fuel contract that includes two tiers of biodiesel: B#1 and B#2. Steve said that his market research identified two likely customer sets for biodiesel on the State’s contract: one that was happy with biodiesel as it was and another that had experienced some problems. The two tiers ofbiodiesel quality were designed with these two customers in mind. B#2 is essentially biodiesel that is readily,
commercially available right now. B#1 requires additional quality control measures, including BQ-9000 certification for producers, in an attempt to provide additional assurances to customers who cannot afford to have vehicles go down. Steve expects that as the bugs are worked out of the biodiesel market, the two tiers will not benecessary because the readily-available biodiesel will be of high enough quality to satisfy all customers.
Mark Tegen spoke next. He explained that he had been involved with biodiesel since 1996. At that time he was receiving about one railcar per year of biodiesel; today, he receives three to four railcars per week. The biodiesel comes both from World Energy and West Central Soy. Mark explained that there had been a tremendous learning curve in the best way to handle biodiesel through all parts of the supply chain. At his site he has an on-site lab, he
has a testing regimen for rail cars and he stores the biodiesel in a heated storage tank until people come to pick itup. He said the next step was to install a 2 ┬Ám filter press that he expects will substantially reduce problems related to glycerin.
After Mark, Leland Tong of the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission (NBAC) spoke. He gave a brief presentation explaining the NBAC and the rationale behind the BQ-9000 program. In brief, BQ-9000 was intended as a quality philosophy that incorporates ISO 9000 practices with the ASTM standard for biodiesel. The program has three objectives – 1) promote the commercial success and public acceptance of biodiesel, 2) assure biodiesel is produced to and maintained to ASTM specifications throughout the supply chain and 3) avoid
redundant testing throughout the supply chain. Leland explained that there were two possibilities – a BQ-9000 accredited producer of biodiesel and a BQ-9000 certified marketer of biodiesel. Thus, there is no such thing as BQ-9000 fuel. For a full description of the program, visit the website Leland explained that there were 45 production plants operational right now with 55 more somewhere in the planning process. Current capacity is 270 million gallons per year, which is a 300% increase from last year and it is possible that this number may double again next year. This explosive growth was another driver of the BQ-9000 program.
Following Leland’s talk, the discussion was opened for questions from the audience.
The first question was about biodiesel as a lubricity additive for ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). Leland explained that B2 improves ULSD’s lubricity by 67% so that you gain back the lubricity loss from making the ULSD. He said that fuel providers were looking into biodiesel as a possible solution as well as at synthetic additives.
The next person asked about the aging of biodiesel. He explained that he has snow removal equipment that maysit for seven months without being used and he was concerned this was too long for biodiesel to sit. Leland answered that six to eight months is the recommended storage time for biodiesel. As the biodiesel ages, the acid number rises and biodiesel slowly breaks down. Leland explained that petroleum diesel does this as well but the precipitate settles out of petroleum diesel so that the user does not notice. He also explained that people were
working on long-term storage concerns including using stability additives that extend the life to 1.5-2 years. He expects that once the industry identifies the best stability additive and gets widespread approval, these additives will be added at the biodiesel production plant.
An attendee asked Mark Tegen for additional details on his handling of biodiesel. Mark explained that he opens the railcar and uses a bacon bomb sampler to collect samples for basic tests from various depths. the fuel is pumped to tanks that are kept at 110° F for storage until loading into trucks. Trucks are bottom-loaded and driven nearby to have the petroleum diesel added so that mixing is done in the truck. Mark explained that the force of loading the petroleum fuel caused more than enough agitation to mix the biodiesel into the petroleum diesel.
Another attendee had heard that there had recently been problems with fuel that met ASTM specifications and asked how this could happen. In addition, the person asked why there was no specification for blended biodiesel.
Leland said he would need more information to try to diagnose the problem described, but that he had never seen problems with fuel that met ASTM specifications. He suspected that maybe the fuel was out of spec by the time of use. On the second question he said that a specification for a biodiesel blend was very difficult and time consuming but that the effort was underway. Mark explained a little about the ASTM standardization process to help the group understand why a new standard can take so long. Someone asked Steve Hennessey what it would take for the City to restart the biodiesel program. Steve said it would depend on what was identified as the problem. Someone asked if anyone had seen problems at the B5 level. Dennis McLerran explained that King County Metro Transit had problems at the B5 level and that problems had occurred with both high-sulfur diesel and ULSD.
Another person asked about testing of emissions with biodiesel in off-road engines. Leland said that not much work had been done with off-road engines but that he would expect the NOx emissions to be different given the different usage of the engine.
An attendee said he had heard about problems between biodiesel and synthetic lubricity additives and wondered if others had heard this. Dennis McLerran said that his agency worked with ConocoPhillips and US Oil to bring in ULSD approximately five years ago. His understanding was that this had not been an issue. There was one fleet that suspected a problem with the additive but determined that there was transmission fluid in the storage tank that was reacting with the additive to cause the problem. Steve said he had asked this same question in February, which was when he switched to ULSD and was also when he first had a problem with biodiesel. Leland said he had heard of polarity changes between some additives to ULSD that may lead to problems. Another attendee asked about problems with biodiesel compatibility with yellow metal, particularly in heating oil applications. Leland said that that can be a concern because the metal acts as a catalyst to oxidize the biodiesel. The metal is fine but there is an increase in the breakdown of biodiesel and subsequent sedimentation. A big
problem likely would only occur if fuel is stored in parts of the system made of these metals. If the blends are low (B10 or B20) and the yellow metal is not used in areas of fuel storage, then the problem is likely minimal. There was more group discussion of recent problems with biodiesel in the region, and an attendee asked if Europe had seen and/or solved any of these problems given that they use more than the US and often in higher blends. Leland said that he was not aware that they had had these problems and explained some of the differences
between the situation in Europe and the US. He also explained that they were working with some European manufacturers, including Bosch, to ensure products were compatible with biodiesel. The discussion closed with an attendee pointing out that he uses approximately 60,000 gal/yr of biodiesel and that his experience has been great. Others echoed this position and said that the discussion was not meant to be negative but part of an effort to ensure biodiesel use continues to grow and is successful so that a few problems do not cause a backlash against the fuel. The meeting broke for lunch. Mid-way through lunch, Mark Brady gave a presentation on the state of the Coalition. This included an introduction for non-members on what the Coalition is, what it does, who are members and how to become a member. The presentation also included some highlights of the successes the Coalition has had in the recent past and upcoming efforts.
Next, the Coalition presented two awards. Prometheus
Energy received the 2005 Alternative Fuels Sustainable Commitment Award for the company’s efforts to increase the use of natural gas in the transportation sector. In addition, the company, and Dan Clarkson in particular, are active on the Steering Committee of the Coalition. Steve Hennessey received the 2005 Alternative Fuels Spirit Award. Steve has been a member of the Coalition for the past few years and participated extensively in the Steering Committee. Steve is retiring soon so the Coalition wanted to recognize him for all his efforts. Following the awards, Roxanne Dempsey of the US Department of Energy (DOE) gave a brief discussion of the
status of DOE funding for alternative fuel projects. She explained the dedicated money that is available annually only to members of Clean Cities Coalitions. She also explained the current status of provisions of the recent federal Energy Policy Act relating to alternative fuels. She told the group that they should monitor the IRS website for information on tax incentives relating to alt fuels but that new programs that were only authorized in the bill were not expected to have any money appropriated to them until 2007 at the earliest. She explained thedifference between authorized and appropriated so that people can review the bill’s provisions and understand that money is only available when there is an appropriation. Furthermore, something may be authorized but never have funds appropriated for it.
Next, Ann Byfield of the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) gave a presentation on Ecology’s diesel retrofit program for local government fleets. She explained the application process including how they tried to make the process as simple as possible. She told the group that there was $2 million available this year but that additional funds may be made available if the program receives a large response. She explained that Ecology saw applicants to the program as their customers and that they intended to provide very good customer service. The
process would be quick, painless and Ecology intended to pay for any repairs necessary because of the retrofits. Finally, she told the group that applications were due very soon so they should begin now and contact her with any questions.The meeting closed with a discussion of ethanol. Mark Brady explained briefly some of the recent activities in the Northwest around ethanol. He discussed recent and upcoming workshops on ethanol to try to increase interest in
the fuel and bring public-access stations to the area. He described how any vehicle can run on 10% ethanol (E10) and listed the current models that can run on up to 85% ethanol (E85), so called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). He provided the group with information on CleanFUEL USA’s E85 dispensing equipment that is specifically designed to handle the higher alcohol content of E85. Mark explained that although most ethanol is currently produced from corn from the Midwest, there were new technologies to convert cellulose to ethanol. If successful,
these feedstocks would dramatically lower the cost of the fuel so that it would be considerably less than gasoline at recent prices and produced from local feedstocks. Finally, Mark told the group that although Washington was behind many parts of the country in terms of the use of ethanol, there is now considerable and growing interest in ethanol. He advised contacting him if anyone had interest in FFVs or E85 infrastructure for their fleets.

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