Alternatively Fueled Vehicles

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Alternatively Fueled Vehicles

In support of its Environmental Sustainability Policy, the City of Charlottesville is working to advance air quality, public health, reduced energy consumption and economic development goals for the area by promoting the implementation of polices and practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum consumption in its vehicles. Strategies have been adopted to facilitate the introduction of alternative fuels and hybrid-electric vehicles, leading to increased fuel efficiency. The City currently employs 49 alternatively fueled vehicles, including 2 compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses, 16 bi-fuel vehicles (CNG/gas), 23 hybrid-electric vehicles, 3 all-electric vehicles (EVs), and 5 "flex-fuel" vans (ethanol/gas), and has introduced biodiesel blends into a subset of its diesel powered vehicles.

What is a Hybrid Electric Vehicle?

A hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) is a vehicle that uses a small motor and an electric engine to generate power to drive the vehicle, resulting in low emissions and high fuel efficiency. These vehicles do not need to be plugged into an energy source to recharge the batteries, but rather the batteries are Newer Priuscharged through an on-board generator and regenerative braking system. As a result, the vehicle has the same attributes of conventional vehicles, including range, performance, and convenient fueling.

The use of the electric motor allows hybrid vehicles to significantly reduce emissions when compared with traditional gasoline vehicles. In some light-duty automobiles, exhaust emissions of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide are reduced over 50 percent. The City currently has twenty-one hybrids, including Toyota Priuses, Honda Civics, and Ford Escapes. For more information comparing different hybrid vehicles currently on the market, click here.

For additional information, please visit these sites:

What is Compressed Natural Gas?

Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is a domestically produced, clean burning fuel that is the very same gas that is used in your oven and furnace at home. It is composed primarily of methane, but also

One of the City's CNG powered buses
contains other hydrocarbons including ethane, propane, and butane. Vehicles can run on dedicated CNG lines, operating strictly on natural gas, or are "bi-fuel", such as the sixteen pick-ups and sedans in Charlottesville's fleet, which are capable of switching between natural gas and gasoline or diesel. This alternative fuel option is very practical for the City, since Charlottesville distributes natural gas to City and some Albemarle County residents.

There are many benefits of using CNG, including lower carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions compared with gasoline and diesel vehicles. CNG also contains fewer toxic contaminants and has a higher ignition temperature than gasoline, making it less likely to accidentally combust.

Working with the Hampton Roads Clean Cities Coalition, an affiliate of the Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program, the City obtained two compressed natural gas school buses. These buses run much cleaner than regular diesel buses, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 25%-50% and particulate matter by over 85%.

For more information please look here: Truck Fleet Cartoon

What is Biodiesel?

Soy Bus Biodiesel is a diesel replacement fuel that is manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled cooking greases or oils, or animal fats. Biodiesel can be used in several different ways. You can use 1% to 2% biodiesel as a lubricity additive, which can be especially important for ultra low sulfur diesel fuels (ULSD, less than 15 ppm sulfur) that often have poor lubricating properties. You can blend 20% biodiesel with 80% diesel fuel (to make B20) for use in most applications that use diesel fuel. You can even use it in its pure form (B100) if you take proper precautions. A number following the "B" indicates the percentage of biodiesel in a gallon of fuel, where the remainder of the gallon can be No. 1 or No. 2 diesel, kerosene, jet A, JP8, heating oil, or any other distillate fuel. Today, B20 is the most common biodiesel blend in the United States because it balances property differences with conventional diesel, performance, emission benefits, and costs. Equipment that is designed to use diesel fuel, including compression-ignition (diesel) engines, fuel oil and heating oil boilers, and turbines, can use B20 with little or no modifications. The City has been using B20 in a subset of its diesel powered vehicles to evaluate the environmental and operational benefits that utilizing biodiesel can provide.

Some benefits of biodiesel include: Biodiesel Tank

  • The reduction of harmful emissions;
  • Biodiesel is a renewable source of energy and supports the US economy;
  • It is safe, nontoxic and biodegradable;
  • Tax breaks have made biodiesel more affordable;
  • Biodiesel replaces imported petroleum.

Additional Resources include:

For more information or questions regarding efforts to promote alternative fuel usage in Charlottesville and for information regarding the CNG bus grant, please E-mail.

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