The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) will, for the first time, use renewable diesel, a low-emissions, 99% petroleum-free fuel, to power more than 1,000 City government vehicles, including in large vehicles such as sanitation trucks.
The renewable diesel used by NYC will be produced domestically by Renewable Energy Group (REG) and will be distributed by Sprague Energy.
Renewable diesel is a 100% hydrocarbon renewable fuel produced by hydrotreating fats and oils; it can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. Renewable diesel provides very similar horsepower, torque and fuel mileage as compared to petroleum diesel fuel. Increased cetane aids self-ignition of fuel and allows for easier starting, smoother running engines and reliable operation.
REG utilizes Bio-Synfining technology developed and patented by its Synthetic Fuels Division in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Synthetic Fuels Division was launched in 2014 as part of the acquisition of Syntroleum (earlier post) that included the 75 million gallon per year nameplate capacity biorefinery located in Geismar, Louisiana.
The Geismar biorefinery produces a high cetane renewable diesel fuel that can be blended with petroleum diesel in all proportions and can be produced to meet arctic cloud point requirements. The process allows the Geismar plant to utilize a wide array of feedstocks including inedible corn oil, used cooking oil, waste vegetable oils, animal fats, greases and vegetable oils to produce a renewable diesel fuel that meets the same requirements as ASTM D975 specification for petroleum diesel.
Pretreated feedstock is charged to a high-pressure reactor system where the renewable molecules are transformed into clean-burning saturated hydrocarbons. High-pressure hydrogen and a patented catalyst configuration are used to affect the chemical transformation by saturating unstable double bonds (hydrogenation), reacting with oxygenates of the fatty acid molecules to form hydrocarbons and water (hydrodeoxygenation), and removing sulfur molecules (hydrodesulfurization) from the intermediate renewable hydrocarbons.
The intermediate hydrocarbons are very pure paraffins—they are then isomerized to reconfigure the molecules into branched paraffins (isoparaffins) to yield low cloud point clean fuels that are characteristic of the process.
The final step in this process is classic refining—the products are distilled into three main products: renewable hydrocarbon diesel, renewable naphtha and renewable liquefied petroleum gas.
The renewable diesel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% compared to traditional petroleum-based diesel. New York City will be one of the first fleets to use renewable diesel in the northeast. Currently, San Francisco uses renewable diesel for its entire municipal fleet. Most renewable diesel use is currently concentrated in California.
The use of renewable diesel builds upon the City’s success using alternative fuels, including biodiesel; almost every City truck, including those used by Fire and Sanitation, runs on biodiesel. The City also uses solar and wind energy to power government buildings and vehicles.
This initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New York City by at least 80% by 2050 (80 x 50).
DCAS made the announcement at a Biofuels Forum hosted by DCAS and the NYC Parks Department in Prospect Park. The forum is produced in partnership with the National Biodiesel Board and CALSTART and discusses the latest trends and technologies in biofuels.