Locomotive fleet switches to biodiesel

By Michael Shirek | August 03, 2007
Posted Aug. 7, 2007, at 12:31 p.m. CDT

Eastman Chemical Company, a Tennessee-based company, has switched all onsite locomotives at its Kingsport, Tenn., facility to a 20 percent biodiesel blend. The change is expected to take place by the end of this month. The company had previously moved to B10 in early July and found no problems with the initial move.

"We don't anticipate any unexpected problems based on three things," Eastman Staff Engineer Darren Curtis said, "our previous experience with biodiesel blends, our experience thus far with B10 in the locomotives and Genesee & Wyoming's testing of biodiesel."

Rail Link, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI), owns the locomotives and performs in-plant switching at Eastman's facility while Eastman provides the fuel for the locomotives.

According to a press release from the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, the program is a first for Tennessee and very likely the entire southeastern United States. "Every company out there with diesels has to make its own decision about choosing to use biodiesel," Curtis said. "For us, looking at the smaller and the bigger picture, it was worth it. But what made it easier for us with regard to the locomotives [was] because GWI had already done extensive testing on their locomotives with biodiesel and determined that B20 was an acceptable blend to use."

Five locomotives are currently in use at the Eastman facility and around-the-clock operations move an average of 12,000 rail cars within the plant each month.

Eastman estimates that its use of B20 will result in the consumption of approximately 225,000 gallons of B20 each year. Adding this figure to other biodiesel-run equipment at the facility, it's estimated that Eastman will consume more than 600,000 of B20 annually.

"I'm not surprised at all that Eastman is doing this," sad Jonathan Overly of the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition. "The company has been a champion for biodiesel for several years and has helped other fleets in our community learn about this fuel."
 
 
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