Seattle workshop targets fleet managers

By Erin Voegele | January 19, 2011

Fleet managers in the Seattle area will have an opportunity to learn about biodiesel and other alternative fuels at a workshop Jan. 20. The free event, which is hosted by the Alternative Fuels Trade Alliance, will be the 12th in a nationwide series of 14 training seminars scheduled for 2010 and 2011.

The Alternative Fuels Trade Alliance is comprised of the National Biodiesel Foundation, the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation, the Renewable Fuels Association and the Propane Education & Research Council. According to Richard Nelson, program coordinator with the Center for Sustainable Energy at Kansas State University, who is speaking at the event on behalf of the National Biodiesel Foundation, the series of training seminars are supported by the U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities program. “The idea is that natural gas, propane, ethanol and biodiesel would be on the program together,” he said, with the goal that attendees would learn about the pros and cons, benefits, and barriers of each fuel.

A representative of each fuel shares a presentation with attendees. Regarding biodiesel, Nelson said his presentation covers everything from the field to the fuel. “I talk about feedstocks, life-cycle analysis and how the fuel is made,” he continued. “I probably spend half the presentation, or two-thirds of it, talking about fuel quality.” This includes explaining to fleet managers what they need to know about the fuel in order to run it properly in their vehicles. The presentation also addresses sustainable industry growth, what it will take to meet RFS2 requirements, ASTM standards and BQ-9000 certification, Nelson said. In addition, Nelson stresses that there are significant opportunities for attendees to ask specific questions.

Although Nelson said he covers the same information at each workshop, he noted that he does make some regional alterations. For example, he spends more time discussing cold flow properties in regions where cold weather is likely to be an issue.

According to Nelson, attendance at the workshops has been strong. He estimates that roughly half of attendees are primarily interested in learning more about liquid alternative fuels, including biodiesel and ethanol. The other half are primarily interested in learning about alternative gas fuels, like natural gas and propane.

Regarding biodiesel, Nelson said that attendees seem very interested in learning more about fuel quality. They want to know how they can be assured that the biodiesel they purchase meets ASTM standards when they receive it, he said. They also want to learn how to maintain fuel quality onsite, and about engine warrantees and blends. 

The Seattle workshop will be held in the Summit Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Seattle-Seatac International Airport. Additional workshops are scheduled to be held in Orlando and Kansas City. Those interested in attending the events can register on the Alternative Fuels Trade Alliance website.


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