Issue: Mar 2006


Wide-spread commercialization of biodiesel



RKA Petroleum Cos. is the first terminal facility in Michigan

by Rob White

RKA Petroleum Cos. is the first terminal facility in Michigan -- and one of only a handful in the country -- to offer pre-blended biodiesel. A Michigan-based petroleum distributor, retailer, carrier and terminal operator, RKA is now offering electronically blended biodiesel at the rack at its terminal facility in Romulus, Michigan, contributing to increased availability of supply to the marketplace.

Pre-blending has several advantages over the more common splash-blending method, according to Jason Hittleman, RKA's Information Systems Manager and Pricing Coordinator. Those advantages include:

- Better quality - automated systems control the blending
- Reduced risk - blending is done at the rack, eliminating potential for fuel spill or overflow
- Reduced cost - product is bought in bulk and RKA manages the Federal Blender's Credit

"This kind of inline injection system makes biodiesel more easily available to those looking to take advantage of various blending levels that suit their needs," said Spencer Kelly, an editor at the Oil Price Information Service.

These benefits trickle down to the consumer. Rack-blended biodiesel performs in conventional diesel applications, extending the lives of those systems through greater efficiency and cleanliness. It is renewable, thus more environmentally friendly than conventional diesel.

"Biodiesel is increasingly making its way into the lives of more and more Americans," said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "It is a seamless transition to switch from diesel fuel to biodiesel blends, as most vehicles require no modification to run on biodiesel. Biodiesel not only lowers emissions, aiding the environment, but it also aids in increasing our energy security and adding to our economy by using domestic product. Companies like RKA stand out in their industry because they are on the front- end of an important national trend."

Biodiesel will be the main focus of RKA Petroleum's exhibit at the upcoming Michigan Clean Fleet Conference -- an event designed to educate and inform attendees about the various fuels and technologies available to help Michigan fleets reduce fuel usage, decrease emissions and save money. NextEnergy, Michigan's alternative energy technology accelerator, will host the conference at its Detroit headquarters.

"Wide-spread commercialization of biodiesel is an essential part of a larger strategy to decrease our dependency on fossil fuel," said James Croce, CEO, NextEnergy. "RKA is helping advance this cause exponentially with its pre-blended biodiesel, providing increased availability to a renewable, clean- burning fuel source in a cost-effective, high-quality manner."

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