The city of Bangor will be the first in the state to begin using fuel consisting of a biodiesel blend instead of regular diesel in all of their vehicles, including the BAT buses, construction equipment and plows.
Bob Dawes, equipment director for the city, said the new fuel is not only easy on the environment but on the budget too.
“This is a great opportunity for the city,” Dawes said. “This was the most cost-effective option. There’s almost no initial investment, and if it doesn’t work out, we can just stop using it. This will benefit every surrounding town.”
Biodiesel consists of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats which conform to ASTM D6751 specifications for use in diesel engines according to www.biodiesel.org. Biodiesel is the pure fuel before blending with diesel fuel. Biodiesel blends are denoted as, “BXX,” with “XX” representing the percent.
The fuel that Bangor will be using is a B20 blend, which will be provided to the vehicle fleet by Irving. It will contain 20 percent soybean-based diesel, and 80 percent petroleum diesel. Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, president of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, said that the fuel switch is a move in the right direction.
“This sends a very important message, that [Bangor] cares about the environment and the state of our living conditions,” Quinn-Thibodeau said.
He said the group is planning to bring a similar idea up to the university, after more research is done by the group.
“This is a very positive step, but more could be done.” said Quinn-Thibodeau.
Alexander Aman, also a member of SEAC, said biodiesel was an excellent choice of fuel. “I think this is really indicative of how forward-thinking Bangor is. This is a good step in the process,” Aman said. “To make diesel, there are all these nasty chemicals. It’s a nasty process. Biodiesel contains vegetable oil, usually made from corn or soybeans. It’s easy to make and the only byproducts are carbon dioxide and soap.”
When Dawes first introduced the idea to the city, the idea was deemed cost-prohibitive. The city was subsequently fined by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and is paying for this project instead of paying the fine. Dawes said this plan benefits the greatest amount of people.
“This way we get something out of it,” Dawes said. “People who think green will think this is good, and people who don’t probably won’t notice. It will hopefully smell better downtown. I know the businesses there are happy about that.”
The Bangor municipality consists of Orono, Old Town, Hampden, Brewer, Veazie and Bangor. All diesel vehicles in the municipality will be using biodiesel fuel.
According to BAT Superintendent Joe McNeil, the transition from diesel to bio-diesel will be completed around mid- to late-spring.
“It will cost a little more, but it will be a lot healthier and more ecologically sound,” McNeil said.