OARDC Adds Greener, Bi-fuel Vehicles to Its Fleet
Gassed two ways, ready to go: OARDC has added four vehicles to its fleet that can run on gasoline or natural gas. Shown here is the second, separate tank in the trunk for natural gas. (K.D. Chamberlain image.)
Ohio -- The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) now has four environmentally friendly bi-fuel vehicles on
the road as part of a new demonstration project.
in grant funding from the nonprofit group Clean Fuels Ohio, the center recently had four of its fleet vehicles -- three Ford
Fusion sedans and a GMC Sierra pickup truck -- converted to run on either gasoline
or compressed natural gas (CNG), which is a less-polluting fuel that’s also
OARDC officials expect most of the CNG burned in the vehicles to come from renewable
biogas produced locally by one of the center’s industry partners, Cleveland-based
company operates a biogas-producing waste digester and CNG filling station on
OARDC’s main campus in Wooster in northeast Ohio. It has similar facilities in
Cleveland, Columbus and other locations.
Video (2:04): Michael Pallotta of Pallotta Ford Lincoln in Wooster, Ohio, and Dave Benfield of OARDC talk about running vehicles on natural gas.
idea is to get to a carbon-neutral environment, a carbon-neutral society,” said
OARDC Associate Director Dave Benfield, one of the project’s leaders. “As a
research organization, we talk about that with our clients: ‘How do we close
the carbon cycle?’
an example of being able to do that, because now we have a complete loop, from
taking in the waste to digesting the waste to using it to produce an energy
plant uses bacteria to turn food waste and similar materials into methane,
which is collected and refined into CNG for motor fuel.
the plant also powers a generator that provides about 30 percent of the electricity
needs of the main part of OARDC’s campus, said John Ott, head of the center’s
Facilities Services department.
“means you can essentially produce your energy, at least a portion of it, from
what is otherwise today a waste stream,” said Jim Currie, the director of
OARDC’s ATECH program who led the grant
application effort last year.
OARDC’s point of view,” he said, “this relates to demonstrating good
Photo: Each of OARDC's bi-fuel vehicles has a
separate fuel gauge for natural gas, shown here on a Fusion in the upper right
corner of the image. (K.D. Chamberlain image.)
are expected to log about 15,000 miles a year transporting scientists, support staff
and graduate students to OARDC’s other locations for meetings and research, Ott
said. The truck is mostly for shorter-range driving.
center, which is the research arm of Ohio State University’s College of Food,
Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, also
has personnel and facilities on Ohio State’s main campus in Columbus and at nine
outlying research stations around the state.
The four vehicles
represent slightly less than 2 percent of the 230-vehicle total fleet serving all
of the center’s locations, Ott said.
said that if the new rides prove their mettle, “we may look at further
conversions down the road.”
He said he
recently drove one of the bi-fuel Fusions to Columbus and back.
experiments in terms of switching back and forth from CNG to gasoline, and we didn’t
notice any difference. We drove on I-71, and the pickup, power, everything was
fine,” he said.
Video (1:18): Dave Benfield of OARDC talks about "closing the carbon cycle" by running vehicles on biogas-derived, non-fossil-fuel-based natural gas.
part about CNG for the end user is that the function of the vehicle remains the
same,” said Michael Pallotta, owner of Pallotta
Ford Lincoln in Wooster, which converted the
of operation is there,” he said. “The miles per gallon and horsepower and fuel
efficiency remain the same. And you have a little bit less wear and tear as far
as maintenance on the vehicle goes.”
conversions feature a separate fuel tank and fuel line dedicated to CNG. The
vehicles have a separate fuel gauge for CNG located on the dashboard and a
console-mounted switch for changing between CNG and gasoline.
Fusions can run on CNG for about 200 miles, or a bit more than is needed to go
from Wooster to Columbus and back, before having to switch to gasoline,
natural-gas refueling port on OARDC's bi-fuel Ford Fusions is on the left rear
bumper. (K.D. Chamberlain image.)
Department of Energy (DOE) website says burning
CNG instead of gasoline decreases a vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 to
emission reduction includes about 25 percent less carbon dioxide, 65 percent
less nitrogen oxide and 90 percent less carbon monoxide, according to a DOE study.
helping the environment, closing the carbon loop and practicing what we’ve been
preaching for a number of years from a research standpoint,” Benfield said.
some green as well.
biogas-derived CNG currently sells for $2.25 per gasoline gallon equivalent, according
AAA’s Daily Fuel
Gauge Report on Dec. 5 listed the national
average price for a gallon of regular gasoline at $3.38.
details about the project are at http://go.osu.edu/Jnj.