Biodiesel Helps Power the Volvo Ocean Race

By Kaleb Little, National Biodiesel Board

Biodiesel fuels Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 boatsWhen the Volvo Ocean 65 race boats sail into Narragansett Bay, RI, for the North American Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, they’ll be fueling up in Newport with cleaner-burning biodiesel, made from recycled cooking oil sourced from thousands of New England restaurants.

Biodiesel is a domestically produced, clean-burning diesel replacement made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources, including agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats. Compatible with all diesel engines without modification, biodiesel blends are commonly used to power trucks, buses, boats, and most recently, to heat homes reliant on heating oil.

As a supporting sponsor of the May 5-17, 2015 stopover, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is providing biodiesel blends for use on the race boats and in all of the diesel generators and land vehicles associated with the shoreside operations, helping the event to obtain certification by Sailors for the Sea as a “Platinum Level” Clean Regatta.

“Biodiesel stakeholders are excited to take part in this much-anticipated international regatta,” said Paul Nazzaro, National Biodiesel Board program manager. “It seems fitting that America’s first advanced biofuel will be featured at the U.S. leg of the race, where sustainability is such a prominent theme. Our entire team looks forward to sharing the many benefits of biodiesel over the course of this extraordinary event.”

Biodiesel can replace or be blended with petroleum diesel with no engine modifications, making it a viable choice for several types of marine vessel, including recreational boats, inland commercial and ocean-going commercial ships, research vessels, and the U.S. Coast Guard Fleet.

 During the Volvo Ocean Race, much of the emphasis of NBB’s efforts will be on recreational boaters, who consume nearly 100 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. While startup, power, range and cold-weather performance characteristics are similar to diesel, biodiesel’s higher lubricity is proven to reduce engine wear, and its non-toxic, low carbon, biodegradable qualities are less polluting to ocean and air, and safer for humans and marine life.

“We’re in a ‘chicken or egg’ situation where boaters can’t readily purchase biodiesel because it’s not typically supplied by marinas, and the marinas don’t dedicate tanks to biodiesel because they aren’t sure if there will be sufficient demand,” said Nazzaro. “We hope Volvo’s show of confidence in biodiesel to help power such a high profile event will help address this conundrum by educating consumers and raising demand.”

NBB will host an informational biodiesel seminar for the public in Newport and will have a display at the Race Village throughout the stopover where five-gallon jerry cans of biodiesel will be available for the public to test out blending biodiesel with their regular marina fuel.

Produced to stringent ASTM specifications, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated “Advanced Biofuel” to reach commercial-scale production in the U.S. This means that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared to petroleum diesel. Produced in nearly every state, biodiesel supports more than 60,000 jobs across the country. Collectively, the industry has produced more than one billion gallons in each of the past three years.

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