Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

    C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E

  Contact: Lowman S. Henry (717) 939-9551 Ext. # 2934                      September 18, 1996

Soydiesel requires no special facilities, reduces emissions

         Harrisburg -- They've been ground to make burgers and roasted to make snacks, now soybeans are being turned into fuel. And, the next time you pass a Pennsylvania Turnpike vehicle, it could be powered by soydiesel.
        The Pennsylvania Turnpike has taken delivery of nearly 2,000 gallons of soybean oil which will be mixed with 10,000 gallons of regular diesel fuel to help power the Turnpike's vehicle fleet. Since 75% of the vehicles owned by the Turnpike run on diesel, the switch to soydiesel represents a significant effort on the part of the Turnpike to switch to alternate fuels.
        Jack Doyle, Fleet Equipment Systems Manager for the Turnpike said that soydiesel has been used by vehicles refueling at the Trevose and Devault maintenance sheds for the past two weeks and "we've experienced no problems".
        The addition of soydiesel to the two Turnpike fueling stations comes after a test conducted last winter at the New Cumberland maintenance shed in which 600 gallons of the 20% soy/80% regular diesel fuel mix were used in a number of Turnpike pick-up trucks. "That test went well so we decided to expand the program," said Doyle. "Soydiesel will be used in all types of diesel-powered vehicles including large trucks, small trucks -- even tractors."
        The soydiesel mix is about $.50 a gallon more expensive at the moment than regular diesel fuel. "That's basically because the national soybean reserve is low and there isn't a large stock available for conversion to fuel," Doyle explained.
        But cost isn't the only factor in the Turnpike's experiment with soydiesel. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) requires the Turnpike to utilize alternative fuels in 10% of its vehicles under 8700 pounds gross weight by 1997. By 2001, 75% of the vehicles purchased by the Turnpike in that weight category must run on alternative fuels.
        "The law covers most of the vehicles in the Turnpike's fleet," said Doyle. "All our cars, pick-up trucks, utility trucks, vans and some small trucks fit into that category."
        Biodiesel does not yet qualify as an alternative fuel under federal law, but efforts are underway in Washington to have the fuel included. "We hope soydiesel will qualify because there are a number of benefits for the Turnpike," Doyle continued. "One of the top advantages of soydiesel is that it doesn't require special tanks, special handling or expensive alterations to the vehicles."
        Soydiesel is also environment-friendly. It results in lower emissions of smoke and particulate matter. During the Turnpike's test program last winter, vehicles using soydiesel emitted 17% less particulate matter. The fuel is also non-toxic and biodegradable.
        "In fact," Doyle said there has been just one problem identified with using soydiesel. "The exhaust smells like cooking french fries so the equipment operators are getting hungry quicker."
        The experiments with soydiesel are not the Turnpike's first venture into alternative fuels. There are two natural gas-powered pick-up trucks in the Turnpike fleet with fueling stations near Gibsonia and Plymouth Meeting. In mid-October, the Turnpike plans to take delivery of a propane-powered pick-up truck which will be stationed at the Western Regional Office in New Stanton.
        Efforts to introduce alternative fuel-powered vehicles into the Turnpike fleet have been frustrated by the lack of available refueling locations. "Basically we have to develop our own network of refueling stations," said Doyle. If the expanded soydiesel test program goes well, all 20 of the Turnpike's diesel refueling stations will begin using the fuel.
        "If soydiesel is accepted by the federal government as an alternative fuel, it looks like the most economical way for us to comply with EPACT regulations," Doyle concluded. "In the meantime, we will continue our experiments with other environment-friendly fuels."


         P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649