Canadian railway awarded for biodiesel blending solution

By Erin Voegele | May 22, 2012

The Railway Association of Canada announced this month that Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR) has been selected as the winner of its 2012 Marketing Award. The railway is being recognized for the innovative biodiesel fuel blending solution it has pioneered.

According to information released by RAC, the blending technology includes a mobile liquid blending and distribution unit that is capable of blending fuels at a rate of 1,200 liters (317 gallons) per minute. The system can be attached to up to four fuel sources and blend those sources into a finished product.

CEMR was approached by diesel supplier Astra and petroleum company Imperial Oil to design the solution to serve the market demand created by Manitoba’s biodiesel mandate. According to RAC, CEMR used its transportation center, which is located six miles from Imperial Oil’s facility, as the blending location. The railway transported diesel fuel from Imperial Oil and shipped in biodiesel from the U.S. on the Canadian Pacific Rail. Using the liquid blending and distribution unit, tank cars and transloading track infrastructure, CEMR was able to blend the two fuel sources on site without the use of expensive tanks, loading racks or piping system. The highly successful system has been used to blend all of Imperial Oil’s summer diesel the past two years.

In a video on the technology produced by RAC, CEMR Assistant General Manager Sean Crick noted that his organization became aware of biofuels and the business opportunity they offered after the government of Manitoba established its biodiesel mandate. “We found out that the plan was to take the ultra-low sulfur diesel, transport it down to the United States, blend it with B100, and then ship it back to the location here in Winnipeg as finished B20,” he said. “We started to do a little bit of math with the car fleet that would be needed to accomplish that.” He said they decided that there must be a different option that would fulfill the needs of the mandate without those high transportation costs.

The solution developed by CEMR involved a technique to use railcars as the blending vessels. The equipment utilized by the system was commissioned from a transloading equipment manufacturer. “What we would do is we would set the cars up in a chain along our track, and with our blending unit being fully mobile we would work from car to car [to blend B20],” Crick said. “The idea of using the actual railcars themselves eliminated the risk of having onsite storage tanks. As a result of this project we gained some more exposure in the petrochemical industry to the point that transloading of fuels and biofuels has become a significant portion of our transload business today.” 

 

 
 
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