ALTERNATIVE FUELS

Western Washington Clean Cities Strategies

 

 

ALTERNATIVE FUELS

Western Washington Clean Cities strives to expand and strengthen our region’s alternative fuel markets. We believe a diverse mix of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies will best help us achieve our petroleum displacement and air pollution reduction goals: No single alternative serves all needs or vehicle applications.

The role of Western Washington Clean Cities is to help develop markets for the alternative fuels that best meet the needs of our members and stakeholders. This includes assisting member fleets with identifying the most appropriate choice for each vehicle application and facilitating the development of the associated refueling infrastructure. While we focus primarily on on-road applications, Western Washington Clean Cities also supports efforts to increase the use of alternative fuels in non-road applications, such as marine, construction equipment, and generators, where appropriate. This expanded market will assist in creating greater demand and market efficiencies, as well as deliver significant air quality and health benefits.

Biodiesel

If you love the smell of French fries, then biodiesel is the fuel for you.

Biodiesel is a liquid, renewable fuel that can be made from a variety of sources, such as vegetable oils, animal fats and even recycled restaurant grease. Chemically-similar to petroleum diesel, biodiesel can be used in nearly any diesel engine and is typically blended with regular diesel fuel. But biodiesel burns much more cleanly, making a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At least five producers of biodiesel operate in Washington State, including the second-largest plant in the nation, located in Grays Harbor.

 

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using biodiesel: Recology CleanScapes, City of Bellevue, City of Olympia, City of Redmond, City of Seattle, City of Tacoma, Pierce Transit, Port of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy, Saybr Contractors, Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington State Department of Transportation, Waste Management, US EPA Region 10, University of Washington

Clean Cities members that produce and distribute biodiesel: Maxum Petroleum

Other regional fleets using biodiesel: Essential Baking Company, Jefferson Transit, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Intercity Transit, Northwest Trek, Snohomish County, Tacoma Public Utilities, Thurston County 

Biogas (Biomethane, or Renewable Natural Gas)

Turning trash to cash, using our landfills to kick gas!

Biogas, also known as renewable natural gas (RNG), comes from gas produced during the natural breakdown of organic waste. Due to its renewable nature, biogas is extremely climate-friendly, releasing the lowest amount of greenhouse gas emissions of any commercially-available vehicle fuel. Sewage, agricultural waste and landfills are all potential sources of biogas, which can be used to heat buildings and fuel natural gas-ready vehicles. Landfills in particular can generate an astonishing amount of energy. For example, King County’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill produces enough biogas to equal nearly 40,000 gallons of gasoline each day!

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using biogas: Pierce Transit, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

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Electricity

Washington State has over 400 public charging stations for electric vehicles, fourth-best per capita in the U.S.

Whether it’s generated from inexpensive Washington hydropower or from more traditional energy sources, electricity is increasingly being used to power our transportation needs. By converting power from the electricity grid to a vehicle’s battery, electric vehicles, also known as EVs, produce no emissions “at the tailpipe.” And EVs are up to three times more energy efficient than their gasoline-powered cousins!

Vehicles that use electricity are generally categorized into two groups: all-electric and plug-in hybrids. While all-electric vehicles run solely on a charged battery, plug-in hybrids combine electricity with another fuel, like gasoline, to increase range. But thanks to Washington’s clean energy, operating an all-electric vehicle results in fewer emissions than driving any other car – even the most fuel-efficient hybrids.

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using electricity: City of Bellevue, City of Olympia, City of Seattle, City of Tacoma, Frito-Lay, King County, Pierce County, Puget Sound Energy, Washington State Department of Transportation, US EPA Region 10

Other regional fleets using electricity: Alaska Airlines, City of Bellingham,City of Sammamish, Potelco, Snohomish County, Tacoma Public Utilities,Thurston County

 

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Ethanol

Did you know your gas-fueled vehicle is probably running on ethanol right now?

Ethanol is a type of fuel made from plant materials that, combined with regular gasoline, help reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. A variety of ethanol-blended fuels are readily-available in the U.S., from E10 (90% gasoline, 10% ethanol) to E85 (15% gasoline, 85% ethanol) for flexible fuel vehicles.Though most commonly linked with corn, ethanol is now being produced commercially from cellulosic materials, such as wood and grass. Cellulosic ethanol is even cleaner than corn-based ethanol and reduces emissions up to 86% more than gasoline. 

Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are similar to cars with conventional engines, except FFVs are specifically adapted to handle fuel that is primarily ethanol, which generates extra oxygen. There are currently more than 17 million flexible fuel vehicles in the U.S., but many FFV owners aren’t even aware that their car can use E85 fuel.

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using ethanol: Bangor US Naval Base, Snohomish County

Hydrogen

Just like the Jetsons – hydrogen has been used for space flight since the 1950s. 

Hydrogen is often seen as the clean fuel of the future. Using the most abundant element in our universe, hydrogen can be produced in multiple ways – by reforming natural gas, electrolyzing water, and even fermentation. Hydrogen has the potential to become the basis of a pollution-free transportation system if it can be produced with renewable energy to power fuel cell vehicles. 

Fuel cell vehicles combine electricity and hydrogen for propulsion, generating only water and heat as emissions. Fuel cell propulsion is also thought to be two to three times more efficient than a standard internal combustion engine. While Washington State currently does not possess the infrastructure for hydrogen-fueled vehicles, the region’s clean and inexpensive energy could allow the state to support fuel cell vehicles once hydrogen becomes in-demand.

Natural Gas

It may drive like a petroleum-powered vehicle, but it certainly doesn’t sound like one. 

Natural gas, traditionally used to power homes and businesses, can also be used for cars and trucks. Natural gas produces fewer emissions than conventional diesel and gasoline-fueled vehicles and runs quieter as well. With a wide distribution network across the country, natural gas is readily available for fleet users and consumers alike.

Drivers can find natural gas in two forms – liquefied and compressed. Liquid natural gas (LNG) needs to be cooled to temperatures below -260°F but packs a lot of punch, making it particularly useful for long-range vehicles. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is used more widely and can be seen across the Puget Sound region, including trucks, buses and taxi cab fleets. Some natural gas vehicles, called bi-fuel NGVs, can operate on both natural gas and petroleum-based gasoline.

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using natural gas: Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste), Recology CleanScapes, Click Wholesale Distributors, City of Enumclaw, Eastside For Hire, Pierce Transit, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Waste Management

Other regional fleets using natural gas: Interstate Distributors, Potelco, WallyPark, Waste Connections, Yellow Cab 

Propane

Did you know that propane is the third-most widely used transportation fuel in the world?

Propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas or autogas, is produced as a by-product of the refinement process for natural gas and crude oil. Although propane is primarily considered as a fuel for heating and other domestic uses, its low cost and clean burn makes propane an increasingly popular alternative fuel for transportation.

Conventional vehicles can be converted to run on propane, substantially reducing emissions and other pollutants. Can’t find propane at your local gas station? Western Washington currently boasts more than 20 public refueling stations for propane vehicles, with significant growth expected in the next several years.

Western Washington Clean Cities member fleets using propane: City of Kirkland, King County, Shuttle Express, Washington State Department of Transportation

Other regional fleets using propane: City of Edmonds, First Student, Schwanns, Seattle Children’s Hospital 

Renewable Diesel

Keep an eye on this emerging fuel since it comes drop-in ready for any diesel vehicle.

Renewable diesel is a diesel fuel made from oils and fats, such as waste greases, tallow, and palm oil. Unlike biodiesel, renewable diesel has the same molecular composition as petroleum diesel. However both fuels are ready for use immediately – no vehicle conversion required.  If the fuel is produced using low-carbon feedstock, renewable diesel has the capability of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe pollution.

Renewable diesel has yet to become readily available in Washington State. Instead, the fuel is primarily consumed in California, where demand is highest due to the state’s low carbon fuel standard.