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Central Ohio Transit Authority buses are fueled by biodiesel
Ohio Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Earlier this month, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) unveiled a new look to portions of its fleet with soy biodiesel messaging.

The new design is part of an ongoing effort that demonstrates COTA’s initiative to clean up central Ohio, lessen dependence on foreign oil and reduce fuel costs by using soy biodiesel.

The messaging is sponsored by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and Nexsol Biodiesel, the brand of soy biodiesel supplied by Ohio’s largest production facility, Peter Cremer North America in Cincinnati, Ohio.

All 234 of COTA’s buses are powered by soy biodiesel and currently run on a B50 blend (50 percent soy biodiesel and 50 percent petroleum).

June through September, the fleet ran on a B90 blend, the highest blend used by a transit fleet in the U.S. COTA’s estimated savings using the alternative fuel is $400,000 a year.

The new soy biodiesel messaging appears on 35 of COTA’s buses. Educational placards highlighting the benefits of soy biodiesel exist in all 234 buses for passengers to read during their commute.

Using soy biodiesel is “really a unique thing,” said Don Makarius, director of vehicle maintenance and engineering for COTA. “We have become a leader in the field by choice and didn’t really realize it at the time.”

Driving 10 million miles a year, COTA uses 2.2 million gallons of fuel annually with 1.2 million gallons being soy biodiesel.

“COTA’s 15 million passengers are now breathing easier, thanks to soy biodiesel,” said John Lumpe, OSC Executive Director. “This is such an exciting time to think that COTA is leading the way in helping to fuel Ohio’s future with soy biodiesel.”

Columbus is not alone in pursuing the advantages of soy diesel. After last year’s hurricanes and concerns of fuel shortages and rising prices, the city of Cincinnati, who had already been gearing up to use biodiesel, began using a 60 percent blend in their Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Agency buses. Even after fears of fuel shortages waned, the continued to use biodiesel and now run their fleet on a 75 percent blend.

According to the American Public Transportation Assoc., about 17 percent of fixed-route buses nationwide use an alternative fuel. In the Midwest, where soybeans are readily available, soy diesel is the most popular choice. In other parts of the country, compressed or liquefied natural gas is used to power the vehicles.

Soy biodiesel, made from soybeans, a renewable resource grown in Ohio, is the state’s leading alternative fuel and can be used in any diesel engine with no modifications.

It burns cleaner, increases engine lubricity and reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Ohio currently has over 150 soy biodiesel distributors and 50 retail locations.

Headquartered in Columbus, the Ohio Soybean Council is governed by a 18-member volunteer farmer board, which directs the Soybean Promotion and Research Program.

The program’s primary goal is to improve soybean profitability by targeting research and development projects through the investment of farmer-contributed funds.

This farm news was published in the Oct. 18, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.