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When biodiesel gets too green

You know how cooking oil spoils? Well, apparently so can biodiesel fuel.

In a situation similar to the experience of truck fleets in Minnesota, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) in Colorado discovered its buses’ fuel filters were blocking last winter, causing breakdowns. Investigation showed that algae, similar to the “green scum” found on the top of ponds, had been growing in the biodiesel fueling the vehicles. The RFTA had recently switched to the alternative fuel in its efforts to cut costs after rising fuel prices last year.

Algae growth in biodiesel is actually a well-known problem with the solution, an anti-algae treatment, available. Apparently the fuel supplier, though, had not warned the RFTA.

“We had a long talk with them about it,” said Ken Osier of the RFTA.

Despite the problem, the agency plans to continue pursuing the use of biodiesel in its fleet.

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