Ballina Shire Mayor Phil Silver and Cr Ben Smith.
Ballina Shire Mayor Phil Silver and Cr Ben Smith.

New fuel helps Ballina burn fat

While the combination of beef, mutton and soy might seem like the ingredients for a stir fry, Ballina Shire Council is putting them in their petrol tanks.

Last week Council began using B20, a blend of conventional diesel and 20% biodiesel derived from tallow (beef and mutton fat) and soy beans, in their heavy plant and light vehicles, after having upgraded fuel pumps and the computerised fuel management system to accommodate the use of biodiesel.

Cr Ben Smith, who initiated the idea, said the fuel also helped clean the engines.

“It reduces our dependence on finite reserves of oil and reduces production of ‘new’ CO² from burning fossil fuel,” Cr Smith said. “There are benefits in cutting particulate emissions, with no loss in engine power or fuel economy.

“It’s also about Ballina Shire Council leading by example. We’re keen to improve environmental outcomes for our community in simple, practical ways. This demonstrates that we are taking these issues seriously and looking at improving environmental outcomes where we can.”

Ballina Shire Council civil services manager John Truman said Council had carefully considered the pros and cons of B20, and found the disadvantages were relatively small: a cost increase of less than five cents a litre, increased oxides of nitrogen, and the need to ensure that sources of biodiesel remain sustainable.

Mayor Phillip Silver said using B20 put Council ahead of the game.

“There’s a small extra cost to Council, but a big community benefit through using a cleaner burning fuel,” Mayor Silver said. “Based on Council’s current use of diesel, we’ll cut more than 200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve also insisted on using Australian sources for our biodiesel.”

Cr Silver also suggested the initiative would be a good way for neighbouring councils to increase sharing resources and that he would be taking the idea to NOROC, the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils.

B20 will be used in 60 heavy and 40 light vehicles, which use around 550,000 litres of diesel a year.

Ballina Shire Council resolved to introduce B20 biodiesel for all its operations, provided the blend meets the Australian Diesel Fuel Standard and the biodiesel component meets the Australian Biodiesel Standard.


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