With all the diesel traffic in Memphis and Shelby County, the air is starting to match the muddy waters of the Mississippi River. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took notice last summer, they assigned the county a poor rating based on its ozone levels and gave local authorities until June 2007 to clean up the air. In light of this, City councilman E.C. Jones last week introduced an option to various city and county government staff that could reduce diesel emissions up to 30 percent.
Representatives from Clean Fuels Technology, a Nevada-based company that produces a fuel mix of water and petroleum, met with the heads of local government departments that rely heavily on commercial diesel-fueled vehicles. They said the aquadiesel, also known as emulsified fuel, reduces the components that make up smog (called NOx), as well as the smoke emitted from diesel vehicles (particulate matter).
"This may be something that departments with vehicles that use diesel, such as MATA, the fire department, and public works, could use," said Jones. "It would certainly be advantageous to all of us to reduce emissions."
According to Ken Platt, director of business development at Clean Fuels, aquafuel could be used in on-road and off-road vehicles, as well as in power generation and industrial boilers.
The mixture, which is 85 percent diesel fuel, 13 percent water, and 2 percent additive, is already widely used in other countries, such as Italy, Australia, Holland, and the U.K. Unlike biodiesel (fuel made from vegetable oil), engines do not need to be modified.
Platt said that switching to aquadiesel would mean an estimated 45 percent cost savings, but many of the department heads agreed that they'd have to see it to believe it.
"I'd like to push hard to find a test site here so we can come in and demonstrate the technology," Platt said. "I think that's the key: The proof's in the pudding."
Platt plans to visit Memphis to test the product by June 6th. Jones says aquadiesel will not be instituted across the board, and the market will be left open to other companies with a similar product.