TfL pilots 20% ‘chip fat’ biodiesel scheme

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Trial involves all vehicles operating from the Barking bus depot, which would normally use 3.7 million litres of regular diesel annually

All 120 buses operated from Barking bus depot are being run on diesel made from used chip fat and other food waste.

The scheme was launched last week in a new pilot scheme spearheaded by the Mayor of London. The buses will now run on a B20 blend of 80% regular diesel and 20% biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel which will help cut carbon emissions of each bus by about 15%.

A total of 10 routes are served by the Barking depot where a new 50,000 litre storage tank has been installed to contain the blended biofuel which is mixed on-site. A new Honeywell Enraf Fusion4 Microblender has been installed to ensure the accuracy and conformity of the blended product. Standard diesel supplied by Prax Petroleum already contains a 7% biodiesel blend allowed under current EN 590 legislation. The biodiesel is supplied by Argent Energy.

London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world, carrying 2.3 billion passengers a year. Currently the 8,700-strong bus fleet uses around 250 million litres of fuel each year, with 3.7 million litres used by buses operating out of the Barking garage alone.

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Environment and Energy, said: “This is another example of the Mayor’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions and making our city’s transport even cleaner and greener. The Mayor has called for investment in a large scale biodiesel refinery in the capital and with London operating one of the biggest bus fleets in the world, this pilot is an important step in demonstrating to the UK’s biodiesel industry that there is a huge potential demand for it here.”

Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “The introduction of buses powered by biodiesel on London’s roads is a significant development in our wider programme to continually improve the green credentials of the capital’s bus fleet. Using biodiesel recycles waste products, reduces carbon emissions and, we hope, by successfully trialling it we will encourage other transport operators to consider using it too.”

Mark Threapleton, Managing Director for Stagecoach London, said: “Stagecoach was the first bus company to use 100% biofuel back in 2007 and we’re delighted to be at the cutting edge in the use of this cleaner, greener biofuel in London. We know from our use of bio-diesel that it has a number of environmental benefits. The fuel is derived from sustainable sources and contributes towards improving the environment in East London. Sustainability is at the heart of our business and we are working hard to attract more people on to our greener, smarter bus services.”

Biodiesel is a renewable, cleanburning fuel made from used cooking oil from the catering industry and tallow which is a residue from the meat processing trade. It is estimated buses running on biodiesel produce 15% less ‘well to wheel’ carbon emissions than an ordinary diesel-powered bus.

The biodiesel pilot is one of the many measures the Mayor has introduced to make London’s bus fleet more environmentally friendly. Other initiatives include operating zero emission hydrogen buses on Route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway and delivering Europe’s largest hybrid bus fleet. Five hundred hybrid buses now operate on the capital’s roads, including the New Bus for London vehicles, with more being introduced in a rolling programme.