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Ohio Governor Mandates DOT to use B20 and E85 Biofuels

Ohio Governor Bob Taft has instructed the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to use at least one million gallons of B20 biodiesel fuel and 30,000 gallons of E85 ethanol per year, and to select only Flex-Fuel (capable of running gasoline or ethanol blends up to E85) vehicles for new car purchases.

ODOT uses about four million gallons of diesel fuel a year to fuel its 4,200 pieces of heavy equipment that can run on biodiesel or diesel fuel. The equipment includes pick-up trucks, dump trucks (snow plows) and off-road equipment.

Ohio DOT has been testing the use of alternative fuels since 1999 in a pilot program that required the purchase of $1 million worth of alternative fuels for use in the ODOT fleet. Since then, ODOT has used 1.2 million gallons of biodiesel fuel, for a total of about $1.6 million.

As part of the pilot program, ODOT installed an ethanol tank in Columbus for use in sedans and small cars. At the same time, it began acquiring flex-fuel passenger vehicles that can operate on either normal gasoline or fuel blended with high levels of ethanol.

ODOT now owns 193 flex-fuel vehicles and requires that all new sedans purchased are flex-fuel. As part of the governor’s initiative to further invest in alternative fuels, ODOT will now add an ethanol tank as it constructs new district offices around the state.



A couple of more announcements like this, and perhaps Honda, Toyota, or Ford will be persuaded to make at least some of their economy hybrids available as flex-fuel. Admittedly, hybrids are expensive enough to make as it is, and adding flex-fuel capability only adds to the cost, but Ohio state fleet managers who wanted to buy hybrids, for example, are now shut out of that option.

Honda, Toyota, and (to a lesser extent) Ford know very well that municipal fleets have been some of the most visible early adopters of hybrid technology. Hopefully, they will see the announcement - and the light.


Does Bio-D tend to gel in extreme cold the same way regular diesel does? Is this easily fixed with some kind of chemical additive...anyway I'm sure ODOT has done its homework before making this move.


It can, and yes, ODOT has worked through it.

In the early stages of the pilot program, ODOT dealt with some setbacks in using biodiesel that caused the fuel to “gel” in the wintertime as well as some plugging of equipment filters. Technology has advanced far enough to overcome these problems and ODOT has not discovered any limiting factors that would prohibit the widespread use of alternative fuels.


Sean, more background information is available at an earlier post from GCC:

You can also find a cold testing report at

or you can just Google something like "biodiesel additive cold" (without the quotes, of course), and I'm sure you'll find many resources.

Lance Funston

With B-20 I would think it would have to be extremely cold to gel the fuel. This is 80 petro-diesel...

Five or ten more major city majors doing this and you may reach a tipping point in terms of critical mass for demand on bio-fuels.

richard schumacher

Before doing this it would have to be shown unambiguously that ethanol fuel production has a net positive energy yield. So far that claim is made mostly by ethanol producers and those funded by them, and at best a 20% or so return. Less partisan investigators find a net energy *loss* of about that size. The situation seems a better for bioDiesel but still not great.

Oxygenated fuels helped reduce HC and CO emissions in the engines of 20 years ago, but today ethanol is pretty clearly an agricultural subsidy program and not a path to significant reductions in petroleum use.


A positive energy yield is obviously better, but even if the yield is negative it can still reduce petroleum usage. The energy to make ethanol does not need to come from oil. After all, the fact that converstion to electricity has a negative yield ( thermal energy -> electricity ) doesn't make power plants a bad thing.


Richard you're completely and utterly wrong. It takes 35,000 BTU's to generate a gallon of Ethanol and that gallon can generate 77,000 BTU's of energy on the other end. The USDA says there is 67% net energy gain in making Ethanol. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a oil company hack or a Republican puppet owned by an oil company. They constantly reach back to data from 30 years ago to "prove" that the technology doesn't work. Ignoring decades of research and technological advancement. Read more about it here.

Robert Schwartz

Taft would do better to pluck the mote from his own eye. He might start by a full criminal audit of the worker's compensation fund and a special prosecutor to throw the miscreants in jail.

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