The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Ferries Division will begin operating its third vessel – Klahowya – with a biodiesel fuel blend on Saturday, July 19. The Klahowya will operate on a five percent blend (B5) of tallow-based biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur diesel (95 percent). Tallow-based biodiesel is made from unused beef fat left over from the rendering process. The process of converting tallow into biodiesel is similar to the process used to convert plant oils such as soy and canola into biodiesel.
The Klahowya fueling is part of the Biodiesel Research and Demonstration Project – a scientific pilot test of biodiesel in the marine environment. The ferry system began the testing phase of the project in March with the fueling of the Issaquah using a five percent blend of soy-based biodiesel. In April, the vessel Tillikum began running on a five percent blend of canola-based biodiesel.
In addition to testing different types of biodiesel, the ferry system is testing different blend percentages. Initially the boats are fueled with a five percent blend of biodiesel. As the demonstration progresses, biodiesel blends are increased to a 10 percent (B10), followed by a 20 percent blend (B20).
The Issaquah is currently running on a 20 percent (B20) blend of biodiesel. There have been no problems in the vessel’s operational performance running on biodiesel so far.
“The Issaquah’s performance has been remarkable thus far. There have been no problems with this fuel source and the vessel has exceeded expectations,” said Paul Brodeur, Ferries Division Director of Vessel Maintenance, Preservation and Engineering. “The vessel continues to perform very well.”
The Tillikum’s increase to a 10 percent biodiesel blend has been delayed due to sludge accumulation in the vessel’s fuel purifier. Researchers at the – a project partner – are analyzing samples to determine the source of the sludge on this particular vessel.
Biodiesel testing is expected to continue until February 2009. Testing results will be used to create a published document guiding the marine industry in the use of biodiesel.
In addition to the of , PSCAA and light, project partners include the U.S. Department of Energy, , Imperium Renewables, Rainier Petroleum, Sound Refining, and the Glosten Associates.
Funding for this project is made possible by a $500,000 grant through the federal energy budget. Seattle City Light is providing funding of up to $350,000, and The Glosten Associates have contributed $25,000 to this project.