Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Demonstrating the use of cleaner bio-fuelled vehicles within a local authority fleet

17 of Cork City Council s Vehicle Fleet: 1 Isuzu Trooper 1 VW Transponder, 4 Ford Couriers and 11 Fiat Ducatos. were converted to run on Pure Plant Oil (PPO) in May 2003.

Subsequent problems and solutions are tabulated below:
Vehicles Problem Solution Comment
Isuzu Trooper August 2003 the engine developed problems with timing mechanisms and leakages conversion completely reversed engine internal and old - probably not a good choice for experimentation.

ALL Oct. 2003 drivers complain about thick black exhaust smoke and the significant noisy start-up delays fuel filters should have been changed within a month of the conversions & the idlespeed of the engines needed to be increased to keep the engine at a higher temperature drivers mixed 25% diesel into the PPO as anecdotal evidence suggested that this helped reduce startup delays; 3 drivers pulled out because of concerns about the nauseating exhaust gas smell Fiat Ducatos

May 03 -June 05:Ongoing problems with start-up & smoke The Ducato engine�s internal energy management system, which had been adjusted to heat the PPO fuel line, was actually registering the new setup as a fault and cutting out. New parallel fuel-line heating mechanisms were set-up instead Performance improved dramatically
Ford couriers Start-up problems, injection pump timing belts failed Timing belts replaced The belts were old-having clocked up around 50,000 miles ALL

Dec. 05 Slow refuelling Installation of a home-made valve to allow greater free flow of the biofuel from its own refueling tank.

In 2004 2 vehicles were tested at the University of Limerick. The tests demonstrated that steady-state PPO emissions are more or less the same as for diesel but there were marked power & torque improvements particularly using 100% PPO.
By late 2005 all of the original 16 vehicles containing converted engines were using 100% PPO again.

In autumn 2005 the council also began to use a locally-made biodiesel: Gro-oil, in a Mitsubishi L200. In spring 2006 they ran a common rail injection engine ford focus on Gro-oil. The driver has since written a positive report on the vehicle s performance whilst operating on biodiesel, recording the impact of the fuel on key performance indicators. Ultimately the Plant and Machinery Division intends to use bio-diesel for its entire new fleet due for purchase in 2007, but this will depend on price, availability and reliability. The main advantage of biodiesel is that the vehicles do not need conversion so it s easier to introduce fleet-wide.

This project has benefited the Irish economy by playing a key role in developing an indigenous biofuel industry. It has been morally uplifting to farmers and environmentally beneficial in demonstrating ways to reduce net transport ghg emissions. Cork City Council has developed a checklist for those considering conversion of vehicles to run on biofuel which it has submitted to its PPO supplier & SEI: the body responsible for promoting & developing policies for renewable energy nationally.

The use of lower emission fuels for City Council vehicles was perceived locally as being highly innovative because very few local people were even aware of the existence of such fuels. PPO was never before used by local authority vehicles in Ireland, (bio diesel was used before in County Council vehicles and during the MIRACLES inception period, a trial of waste cooking oil in County Council boilers and vehicles was underway.) Vehicle conversion kits had to be specially developed by the supplier for some of the fleet�s vehicles, as these models had not been converted before.

Much was learned after this and the critical success factors identified were as follows:
- If converting vehicles to run on PPO a single tank system can seem advantageous for fleet owners where drivers change frequently; a dual tank system can however reduce start-up delays.
- Whatever system is introduced the conversion kit must be carefully adapted to the vehicle in question. Kits for new engines may not be readily available but the engine should still be in reasonably good condition.
- Not all diesel engines can be converted and those that are may need replacement eventually. The cost of conversion & PPO use should be weighedup against the cost of using biodiesel alone in unconverted engines.
- Biofuels are not ideal for RCVs, which are continuously stopping & starting bearing heavy loads.
- Drivers must be fully briefed at an early stage & complaints should be listened & responded to immediately.
- Instructions from suppliers of conversion kits & fuels should be very strictly adhered to.
- The future success of the PPO industry could be greatly enhanced if:
--Standards for PPO could be developed and enforced
--Purpose built cars capable of using PPO without conversion become widely available
--A comprehensive biofuel refueling infrastructure is put in place.

Reported by

City Hall, Anglesea Street
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