Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases. It's safe, biodegradable, and it reduces serious air pollutants like carbon monoxide, particulates, hydrocarbons, and air toxics. Blends of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent petroleum diesel (B20) can be used in unmodified diesel engines; pure biodiesel (B100) may require engine modifications to avoid maintenance and performance problems.
In its role as a leader in the use of alternative transportation fuels to clean the air, promote renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, San Francisco now has more than 800 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleets. Several city departments and agencies have successfully tested and used biodiesel in pilot programs using B20 or higher biodiesel blends, including:
- San Francisco Airport (SFO). The airport is using B20 without incident, but has had problems with the city's fuel provider regarding reliability and availability of the fuel and is looking for new contractors to meet their biodiesel needs.
- Department of Public Works. Central Shops, which provides motor vehicle maintenance and repair services for several city departments, has converted their 6,000-gallon tank in Golden Gate Park to B20 as Phase 1 of a project that will eventually convert 100 percent of Central Shops' other tanks. No problems with the fuel have been reported or are anticipated. Central Shops' staff services a fleet of approximately 5,300 units ranging from lawn edgers to aerial fire trucks and completes 34,000 maintenance repair orders a year.
- San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The largest user of B20, Muni is interested in seeing how fuel demands are going to be met for 12 buses that will be part of a future pilot program.
- San Francisco Zoo. The zoo's first biodiesel-powered vehicle was the ZooMobile, a traveling outreach program with an annual audience of about 12,000 children, teachers, and seniors. The zoo's poop truck, which picks up animal droppings inside the park and transports them for recycling as fertilizer, was recently converted to biodiesel. There are plans to covert three other zoo vehicles, all of which will be served by the solar-powered biodiesel depot on zoo grounds.
- San Francisco Fire Department. The fire department initiated a six-month pilot program to test and monitor the use of B20 in nine of their vehicles. Upon successful completion of the pilot program, the department expects to expand the use of biodiesel throughout the city.
For more information, check out our Clean Fuels & Vehicles Program here.