Cal Poly Pomona is the first university in the CSU system to adopt the use of a renewable-diesel formula that dramatically lowers the amount of greenhouse gases given off by campus vehicles and equipment by 80 percent.
The renewable diesel, which has been tested and approved by the Air Resources Board and the state Water Resources Board, is comparable in cost to petroleum-derived diesel but produces far fewer pollutants.
The renewable diesel is being used in vehicle fleets in Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Carlsbad and Walnut Creek. Fleet managers in Alameda and San Juaquin counties are reporting that vehicles using the renewable diesel require less maintenance.
“The university continues to push for sustainable practices in every aspect of the campus,” said Monika Kamboures, Cal Poly Pomona’s sustainability coordinator. “Now we can add the benefits of renewable diesel fuel to our efforts for cleaner air.”
Refined mostly from recycled fats and oils, renewable diesel is chemically identical to petroleum-derived diesel and can be used without making any modifications to engines. Renewable diesel also has been engineered to maximize engine performance. In tests, renewable diesel outperformed petroleum-based diesel and bio-diesel fuel.
The California Air Resources Board found that renewable diesel lowered the emission of particulate matter, greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.
“The switch to renewable diesel is a clear win for Cal Poly Pomona, the environment, and the community,” said Jeremy Model (’19, business administration), who led the effort to change from petroleum-based diesel when he was an undergraduate. “It is an immediate and cost-competitive solution to decrease emissions and improve local air quality.”
Model noticed the benefits of renewable diesel after filling up his truck at a gas station near campus. When Model accelerated the truck, he did not see a plume of black smoke that is a telltale sign of petroleum-based diesel. He later suggested to Kamboures that the university should consider switching to renewable diesel.
Model, who is the renewable products supply project coordinator at Neste U.S. Inc., an oil and natural gas company based in Houston, Texas, still takes an interest in sustainability at his alma mater.
“This is a very exciting time for sustainability at Cal Poly Pomona,” said Model. “I am proud to have been part of the process to switch from diesel-powered engines to cleaner-burning renewable diesel.”
Vehicles ranging from street sweepers to tow trucks and equipment used by crews in Landscape Services are using the cleaner-burning renewable diesel.