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Ethanol Debuts at Berkeley

Berkeley Lab. With the addition of a 4,000-gallon fuel tank in the motor pool, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has become the first ethanol dispensing station in Northern California. This cleaner-burning, high-octane, environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline will soon power 60 vehicles in the Laboratory’s onsite pool, the largest ethanol-powered fleet in the state.

“By the end of this year, our flex-fuel fleet — those that are capable of using unleaded fuel and/or ethanol-85 — will grow to about 75,” said Don Prestella, Berkeley Lab’s fleet manager. “It is our goal to run all of them exclusively on ethanol.” The total Lab fleet numbers around 250 vehicles.

Much of the Laboratory’s vehicle conversion was made possible by an $83,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. A new vapor-recovery system on the ethanol storage tank — the first in California — has been approved for three-year testing by the California Air Resources Board.

The Lab also uses biodiesel in all of its diesel vehicles, including buses.

That’s great—but the relative lack of ethanol stations is still incredible to me. This highlights a good implementation path, though: corporate or organizational fleets with their own fueling stations. I’d be interested to see the cost numbers.


Philip Couture

I believe that ethanol/biodiesel vehicles are the key to breaking away from dependence on oil companies. I too am amazed that there are so few ethanol only stations. The problem is not with the production, but with the lack of such stations. I am absolutely against E85. Why should we allow the oil companies have their hand in the cookie jar! I don't understand why some JV investors haven't invested in constructing ethanol only stations which are completely independent of the oil companies or gas refineries. If I had the capital I would jump at a chance to invest in such a company.

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