Biodiesel Problematic in Winter

By: John Tramontana Email
By: John Tramontana Email

It's a greener way to run your vehicle, but if not carefully monitored in could soon have you in the red. Biodiesel emissions are cleaner and better for the environment, but it can gel in your gas tank when the temperature gets too low, causing your vehicle to break down.

"Under normal winter conditions our vehicles run smoothly," said Dave Smith of East Lansing Public Works

Smith is an environmental specialist with East Lansing. He says the city puts an additive in the fuel to prevent it from gelling.

"We do it during prolonged cold periods and obviously safety is a concern," he said. "We want to make sure our snow plows and fire trucks stay running because they're obviously very important to public safety."

Especially in an emergency. With fire trucks and ambulances, response time is crucial.

"A fire doubles in size every 18 to 20 seconds," said East Lansing Fire Marshall Bob Pratt.

Pratt says the trucks need to be routinely maintained especially during winter.

"If a truck has a problem that prevents us from getting to a fire, obviously that's a very big problem."

That's why the fire station houses the trucks in a heated garage and uses the liquid additive every other fill up, or about once a week. At about $4 a bottle, the additive is a small price to pay.

"That little bit of cost is well worth it when we know our vehicles will be running properly," said Smith.

Vehicles that could help to save lives.

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