Local News

NCSU Fuels Effort To Improve Air Quality

Posted March 28, 2003

— The United States depends on oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf region for fuel. Even if the war disrupts the U.S. supply, there are reserves to fall back on.

However, many people would prefer that our country not rely so much on other countries for gas.

North Carolina State University

is fueling an effort to switch to fuel that is grown by farmers.

The diesel fuel pumps at N.C. State's fleet services center do not look different, but what they pump is.

"A B-20 blend, which means it's 20 percent soybean-based fuel and 80 percent standard diesel," said Keefe Harrison, of N.C. State.

The university is switching to biofuel to improve air quality. By the end of the month, 123 campus vehicles and pieces of equipment will switch to biodiesel. Over the next three years, all 30 buses that make up the Wolfline will switch over to biodiesel.

Estimates are that 25 million gallons of biodiesel will be used this year -- that is over 16 million bushels of soybeans.

Biodiesel is not only good for the environment, but it will decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil and farmers dependency on government money.

One drawback is that biodiesel costs more.

"It's a little bit of a money increase -- 9 to 13 cents more per gallon on average for a B-20 fuel," Harrison said.

Biofuel technology offers new hope to farmers.

"It would do amazing things to lift prices at the farm level for soybean farmers," said Jim Wilder of the

North Carolina Soybean Producer's Association

.

A 1.5 million acres of soybeans are harvested in North Carolina every year. The crop is worth about $200 million.

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