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Albertan demo project to test biodiesel in extreme temps

By | January 24, 2007
Albertans have teamed up for a biodiesel research and demonstration project in the Calgary-Edmonton-Fort McMurray area. "If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere in Canada with perhaps the exception of the Arctic," said Project Director John Rilett. Fort McMurray is 460 miles north of Calgary, giving biodiesel a true long-haul test in a location where temperatures can hit minus 33 to minus 43 degrees Celsius (minus 27 to minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit).

Partners in the Alberta Biodiesel Demonstration Project include Rilett's organization Climate Change Central, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Canola Council of Canada, Shell Canada Products and the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute. The latter three groups committed funding to the project, and requests were pending at press time for funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Rilett expected phase one research to start in January. It would include studying the best functioning biodiesel blends for summer and winter, engine impacts such as friction wear and coking on cylinder walls, blend quality of inline injection at the terminal level, and potential problems incorporating biodiesel into the Canadian distribution system.

Phase two field trials with trucking participants will start in July and operate for a full 12 months. The project expects to answer questions and build the trucking industry's confidence level in biodiesel before the expected 2012 mandate for biodiesel blends across Canada. "One of the main reasons is to avoid what happened in Minnesota when they pushed through a mandate," Rilett said. "We want to be ready."

David Aldous, president of Shell Canada Products, said the large-scale project will involve the use of 4 million liters (1 million gallons) of blended diesel and about 60 rigs. "This type of testing is important to Shell Canada," he said in a speech at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit in December in Banff, Alberta. Shell Canada will be evaluating the economic, environmental and social aspects of a move to biodiesel blends. "We cannot and will not compromise our fuel quality and value to our customers," Aldous said.
 

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