From French Fries to Boat Fuel

Save The Bay’s Alletta Morris and Swift are running a little cleaner and a little greener these days. Save The Bay has fully transitioned to biodiesel fuels for its education vessels.

The move was made possible by a public-private partnership designed to raise awareness about biodiesel, a renewable domestic fuel that is non-toxic, readily biodegradable and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. Save The Bay is part of a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy, the Rhode Island State Energy Office, Drew Oil, Old Port Marine and Hudsonecofuel. (Read a story on Hudson's effort in the March 11, 2008 Providence Business News.)

On July 19, 2006, Captain Eric Pfirrmann topped off Alletta’s fuel tank with his first order of B20 biofuel. B20 is a mix of 80% conventional diesel and 20% pure biodiesel — which is made from farm byproduct (primarily soybean oil) and recycled “yellow” grease from restaurants and prepared food plants.

“It burns just like diesel,” said Pfirrmann. “And we’re running it without any adjustment or retrofitting of our engine. The message to boaters is that, in the near future, they will have this easy option to reduce dependence on foreign-produced oils from fossil fuels and help the environment. It’s a sweet deal, if you ask me.”

Right now, biodiesel is not readily available on Narragansett Bay. Only Edgewood Marina carries B20 biodiesel, supplied by REC Fuels. But that should be changing. Later this fall, Hudsonecofuel will begin construction of a biofuel plant at Fields Point in Providence — the state’s first biofuel production facility. Currently biofuel is transported in from other producing states and blended here.

“The marinas of Narragansett Bay now can provide clean, domestically produced biofuels to RI boaters at a price competitive with conventional petroleum diesel,” said Fran O’Brien, President of HudsonecoFuel. “This is good for America, good for Narragansett Bay, and good for the marinas’ customers. It’s been a pleasure working with the Governor’s State Energy Office, in cooperation with Drew Oil, Oldport Marine, Malloy Oil, and Save The Bay on this project.”


Perks of Using Biodiesel

• No eye irritation and a more palatable odor to humans — sometimes compared to the smell of French fries!
• Does not harm fish.
• It’s biodegradable.
• Made from renewable, domestically produced sources such as fats, oils and soybeans.
• Therefore, it reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
• It’s safer to store and handle.
• Offers superior lubricating properties.
• Because it’s oxygenated, engines using biodiesel have more complete combustion than with petroleum.
• The B20 mix requires little or no engine modifications to replace or blend with petroleum diesel — this is true for boats as well as cars and trucks with diesel engines.

For more details on the advantages of biodiesel, visit