Scottsdale will begin using biofuels in many of its municipal vehicles in an effort to make its fleet operation more environment-friendly and energy-efficient.
Biofuels — organic compounds derived from vegetable oils and animal fats — burn cleaner and enable vehicles to get better mileage than conventional fossil fuels, said fleet director Danny Johnson.
In July the city will begin using a B-20 biodiesel fuel, a mixture of 80 percent standard diesel fuel and 20 percent biofuels, in most of its 950 vehicles, Johnson said.
The city already has 148 vehicles that run on compressed natural gas and uses other alternative fuels in some other vehicles. With the addition of biodiesel, it expects to soon be using alternative fuels in about 75 percent of its fleet, up from about 45 percent, Johnson said.
Biofuel costs 15 to 20 cents more per gallon than regular diesel, but better mileage per gallon is expected to enable the fleet to run without an overall increase in fuel costs, he said. The city’s fuel budgetis about $1.5 million for the 2004-2005 fiscal year.
The new fuel mixture, which keeps engines cleaner than conventional fuels, is expected to save money in the long term by extending the life of vehicles, said Larry Person, coordinator of environmental programs.
Vehicles now used for about five years could last eight years; some now used for about eight years could remain in the fleet for a decade, Person said.
The city also is awaiting availability of upgrades in cleaner-burning standard diesel fuels.
"There are some significant breakthroughs. The black cloud of exhaust you’ve always seen from diesel engines is going to be a thing of the past,’’ Person said.
Johnson said Scottsdale has joined Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler and Peoria to explore forming a biofuels cooperative. It would enable the cities to purchase fuels at a lower overall price by buying supplies in larger quantities.