When it comes to fuel conservation and the drive for sustainability, Idaho National Laboratory is keen, green and lean. In the past four years, it has dramatically reduced its total fuel use while shifting increasingly toward more sustainable fuels such as B20 biodiesel and E85 (a blend of 85 percent bio-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).
Through June 2009, INL fuel use is down more than 167,000 gallons -- an overall 20.2 percent fuel reduction for the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2009 -- as compared to just four years ago.
"Five years ago, we inherited an aging vehicle fleet in great need of modernization," said INL Facilities & Site Services Director Dwayne Coburn. "Battelle Energy Alliance has put significant resources into sustainability by increasing the use of nonpetroleum fuel products, modernizing our fleet, improving our mass transit routes and reducing unnecessary vehicle use. Today you can see the result -- and it is safe to say we will continue to show significant improvements in this area in the future."
View the energy conservation interview with INL's John Howze.
The savings soon runs into money -- more than $300,000 this year at current fuel prices, which have declined considerably since their peak last fall.
Increasing use of alternate fuels
INL has dramatically increased the use of alternate fuels. In April 2009, the INL bus fleet began running on B20 -- a blend of 80 percent petroleum-based diesel with 20 percent bio-based fuel. Since then, the fleet has consumed more than 15,000 gallons of B20, creating a dramatic upward spike in INL's biofuel profile.
"E85 is now available at locations across the INL Site and at the INL Research Center in town," said INL fuel manager Tad Pearson.
"Employees have been instructed to use E85 in every INL vehicle that is capable of using it. We continue to evaluate new fuel combinations that will increase our use of sustainable biofuels versus petroleum fuels."
More than a quarter of the INL passenger bus fleet has been replaced with new fuel-efficient buses in the past four years. The average new bus carries more passengers and gets 25 percent better mileage than the older ones do. The upgrading of the 100-bus fleet is on schedule to be complete within four years.