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Biodiesel study targets cleaner air, cleaner engines

Cleaner engines, cleaner air and more uses for local farm products were the focus of a just-completed study of biodiesel as an alternative fuel source on selected Ontario farms. This province-wide initiative is the only one of its kind in Canada. It involved six farms to evaluate the effectiveness of using biodiesel in agriculture.

"This project was designed to accelerate the adoption of biodiesel use on Ontario farms through a series of on-farm evaluations," said Deanna Deaville, Special Project Coordinator with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), which is administering the project. "Biodiesel has the potential to reduce Canada's dependence on fossil fuels, provide great environmental benefits and increase market opportunities for Canadian oilseed producers."

"Our Government is committed to encouraging the development and use of renewable fuels," said the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. "Initiatives such as these play an important role in helping us achieve the government's objective of five percent renewable content in transportation fuels by 2010. This is another example of how we can create new economic opportunities for farmers and the agricultural sector while also taking care of our environment."

Natural Resources Canada contributed $300,000 to the project, with other partners Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, UPI Energy, and the University of Guelph providing in-kind support.

It is hoped that the success of this project will lead to an accelerated adoption of biodiesel use in on-farm applications, not only in Ontario but across Canada. This will bring both environmental and economic benefits to Canadians, since biodiesel can be produced from local, renewable resources. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from locally available sources, including animal fats and plant oils such as soybean, sunflower and canola.

During normal farm field work, a research team from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada tested both pure and blended biodiesel, in which the renewable fuel is mixed with petroleum diesel. Evaluated blends had 5 percent and 20 percent biodiesel content, and were tested for engine horsepower and fuel efficiency. Environment Canada monitored exhaust emissions from tractors at the trial sites, including levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

Although commercially available, biodiesel has never been tested on agricultural machinery in Canada and has not yet been widely used by farmers. It is hoped the research results — expected in early May — will help increase demand for biodiesel, which in turn will increase market opportunities for recycled materials and oils and give farmers the chance to grow some of their own fuel. Recent government announcements supporting renewable fuels will help advance the demonstration and use of biodiesel on farms.

Ghyslain Charron | EurekAlert!
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