Pittsburgh Converting 20 More Trucks to Biofuel


The City of Pittsburgh is expanding its use of Optimus Technologies' biofuel conversion solution to an additional 20 public works trucks. Furthermore, the city will deploy an Optimus-designed, 5,000-gallon biofuel storage/refilling station at its main garage.

According to Optimus, its Vector solution is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved, bi-fuel (diesel and biofuel) conversion system that runs in parallel to a truck's existing diesel system. The Vector enables the engine to run exclusively on biofuel most of the time to optimize fuel savings and emission performance. Diesel is used during startup, shutdown or fallback operation, if necessary.

The City of Pittsburgh tested the Vector system for 18 months on five of its trucks used for road maintenance and snow-removal operations. Optimus says the vehicles ran more than three-quarters of the time on pure biodiesel. After a trouble-free field trial, the city decided to take the next step.

“The city has a significant goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years,” says Grant Ervin, sustainability manager for the city. “Since Optimus' solution significantly reduces our emissions footprint – while also reducing our fuel costs with their new, sustainable biofuel – it was an easy decision to increase the number of trucks we wanted to convert.”

The city will offset the costs of the new solution with funding provided by the state's Department of Environmental Protection Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) program and by Innovation Works' Technology Commercialization Initiative (TCI) funding.

To manage fueling operations, the city is adding additional refueling facilities at the 29th St. garage to include a dedicated pure biofuel station. Optimus says the challenge was to implement a solution that could heat the biofuels during cold weather while minimizing operational heating costs. Therefore, the company created a multistage holding tank that heats only the volume of fuel that will be dispensed in the near term, helping reduce the overall heating demands by an expected 70%.

“To support the pure biofuels, customers can either convert existing fueling facilities or implement new ones,” states Colin Huwyler, CEO of Optimus Technologies. “Either way, it's all about creating a total solution, which is why we do more than sell fuel conversion systems. In addition to helping with fueling stations, we are now building out our fuel partner network and will soon develop our Vector reseller network.”

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