Washington, D.C.’s Department of Public Works increased the number of heavy-duty fleet vehicles capable of running on renewable pure biodiesel (B100) by installing Optimus Technologies’ Vector System on 17 new refuse trucks. The fuel system allows the DPW to realize its sustainable energy goals immediately, as enabling the trucks to operate on B100 reduces up to 86% of the vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, said Optimus Technologies and Renewable Energy Group, which is supplying the B100. REG, based in Ames, Iowa, operates 13 biorefineries in the U.S. and Europe.
The department in D.C. began an evaluation of the technology in 2018, when the Optimus system was installed on six garbage and recycling trucks. The system allows the medium and heavy-duty vehicles to run on biodiesel produced from waste fats and oils.
Additionally, the department installed a 12,500-gallon refueling station. The station is equipped with Optimus’ SMARTFuel RFID technology that limits refueling solely to vehicles that are equipped to utilize B100.
The switch to biofuels is a part of Washington, D.C.’s efforts to achieve 50% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2032, with the ultimate goal being an 80% reduction by 2050. Diesel refuse trucks present the biggest barrier to these goals, the department said, as they cause the highest amount of emissions per vehicle.
B100, however, cannot be used as fuel without some engine modifications, said Optimus Technologies, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company’s Vector System, an EPA-compliant, biodiesel engine technology for medium and heavy-duty diesel trucks, is designed to enable vehicles to operate on 100% biodiesel, resulting in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs, the company said.
While the department has explored electric vehicles as an alternative, DPW Director Chris Geldart noted that EV technology isn’t available for heavy-duty applications. Geldart announced that all future refuse trucks ordered by the department will operate on B100.
“We were looking for a solution to maximize emissions reductions while minimizing any effect on operations,” Geldart said. “In 2019, D.C.’s fleet of trucks consumed over 170,000 gallons of biodiesel, resulting in a carbon reduction of more than 1,598 tons. The department is driving these numbers higher through the implementation of the Optimus Vector System in more city refuse vehicles and expanding to other heavy-duty applications such as snow removal trucks.” Using 100% biodiesel allows the department to exceed its 2050 carbon reduction target with the fleet today. The DPW said it intends to have close to 100 trucks upgraded with Optimus Technologies’ biodiesel fuel systems within the next year.