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Corn+Soybean Digest

Soy Biodiesel, Products Keep National Treasures Running

The more than decade-long use of soy biodiesel and other soy-based bioproducts in Yellowstone National Park proves that renewable fuel and other products perform well in some of the harshest environments. Farmer-leaders of the soybean checkoff joined U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Park Service and National Biodiesel Board (NBB) officials at the DOE's Central Regional Clean Cities Workshop near Jackson, WY, to recognize the successful use of soy biodiesel and other biobased products in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and other national parks.

"Yellowstone and Grand Teton Park are perfect examples of well-tested, practical uses for soy biodiesel blends year 'round," says Chuck Myers, United Soybean Board (USB) director and soybean farmer from Lyons, NE. "The successful uses in these parks have yielded valuable information for other diesel users as well."

Since 1990, the soybean checkoff has sponsored research, development and promotion of soy biodiesel, and Yellowstone represented the first national park to test the new technology. The park boasts over 300 pieces of machinery operating on soy biodiesel, the centerpieces being the park's well-known yellow buses and a 1995 Dodge pickup. Yellowstone's trademark yellow tour buses have evolved into a high tech, biodiesel-powered riding experience including on-board electronic and communications gear. The pickup has been running on 100% biodiesel for over 10 years and 181,000 miles. This is no small feat – with an elevation of 6,241 ft., the mountainous region surrounding the park experiences a variety of extreme weather throughout the year.

"The key to successful use of biodiesel is working with a knowledgeable fuel supplier who can ensure fuel quality and successfully manage blends to deal with the various weather extremes we experience in this region," says Jim Evanoff, environmental manager with Yellowstone National Park. Biodiesel blends vary from B2 (2% biodiesel, 98% petroleum) to B100, which is 100% biodiesel.

"With the Clean Cities Program, we’re working with community leaders to educate them on how they can implement programs to decrease the use of petroleum in their community," says Ernie Oakes, Regional Clean Cities project manager. "Biodiesel blends have been a cornerstone of this program, specifically soy-based biodiesel produced in the United States."

Also showcased at the event were soy products with which the Teton staff has taken on an "early adopter" role. Some examples included soy cleaners, lubricants, solvents and hydraulic fluids. The products and innovations highlighted during the event were developed largely through the efforts of the soybean checkoff.
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