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  • Renewable Energy Group Inc.

City of Ames, Iowa, grows fleet use of B100 biodiesel with REG, Optimus Technologies

Photo: Business Wire

The city of Ames, Iowa, is adding seven new, all-purpose dump trucks to its fleet that have the Optimus Technologies advanced fuel system integrated into its new vehicle specification. The Optimus system enables the engines to operate year-round on 100 percent biodiesel (B100) produced by Renewable Energy Group Inc.

This announcement comes after a successful pilot was conducted with five city-owned trucks throughout 2020, meaning soon the city will have 12 total trucks running on B100. The city of Ames is eager to get more trucks on the road that reduce carbon emissions and provide cleaner air for its residents.

Biodiesel is a cleaner alternative to petroleum diesel and is a readily available, sustainable solution for fleets. Suitable for use in any diesel engine, biodiesel can be adopted starting at blends of 20 percent, or B20, all the way up to B100. Biodiesel is considered an advanced biofuel by the U.S. EPA because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by more than 50 percent. REG biodiesel reduces GHGs by up to 86 percent compared to diesel fuel.

At the direction of the Ames City Council, the city of Ames is looking at carbon reduction and long-term sustainability for all of its fleet purchases. The pilot project using Optimus’ Vector System, combined with REG’s B100 biodiesel, provided a tremendous opportunity to pursue a public-private partnership with widespread benefits through lower emissions.

“We undertook the B100 project because we wanted to be responsible stewards to our planet, to the environment,” said John Haila, mayor of Ames. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to make a big impact.”

Like petroleum diesel, biodiesel has the potential to gel in extremely cold temperatures. The Vector System is designed to enable trouble-free use of biodiesel in all engines regardless of operating conditions. Even in the subzero operations snowplows were subjected to while battling the harsh Iowa winter, the Vector System ensured that the vehicles performed flawlessly on biodiesel. One key feature of the Vector System is that it never inhibits the use of conventional diesel fuel; the system always starts and shuts down the engine on conventional diesel, operating on biodiesel only after the engine and fuel system achieve optimal operating conditions.

“Our drivers tested the Vector System in five city snowplows in below-zero temperatures during a big snowstorm,” said Rich Iverson, fleet support manager for the city of Ames. “In one weekend, we used 1,000 gallons of B100 biodiesel and our drivers reported no issues in the trucks’ operations. Optimus’ Vector System certainly proved its abilities to perform at high standards.”

Although electrification options are beginning to emerge for light- and medium-duty applications, B100 biodiesel is an excellent and even lower-carbon alternative (on today’s electric grid) and is particularly well-suited for heavy-duty fleets committed to reducing carbon output without sacrificing performance. When upgrading with Optimus’ technology, fleets are able to achieve significant environmental and performance benefits from their existing vehicles and infrastructure.

“It has been fantastic working with the city of Ames and its leadership,” said Colin Huwyler, CEO of Optimus Technologies. “They have set tangible sustainability objectives and, by integrating the Vector System into their new vehicle equipment specifications, have demonstrated the decisive actions they are taking to reduce carbon emissions. After conducting a successful pilot on their snowplows, the city of Ames has validated that the Optimus technology provides a carbon-reduction pathway for even the most severe-duty vehicles.”

The city’s five trucks already equipped with the Vector System will burn about 10 percent of the city’s total annual diesel consumption. By operating these five trucks with the Vector System, the city of Ames will reduce its carbon intensity by 110 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by the end of the year. With seven new Vector-equipped trucks on order, REG and Optimus Technologies project this program will save well over 200 metric tons of carbon emissions in 2021.

“We are thrilled to provide biodiesel to the city of Ames for this initiative with Optimus Technologies,” said Jon Scharingson, executive director of sales and marketing for REG. “It’s not every day that we have the chance to work on a project in the city where we are headquartered. We are grateful to Mayor Haila, the city council and the entire fleet team at the city of Ames for making this initiative a reality.”

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