Transportation accounts for about one-third of Oregon’s energy use. Alternative fuels like ethanol or biodiesel can increase energy security, reduce
fossil fuel emissions, and cut negative health effects of fossil fuels.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from various plant materials, primarily
corn. Oregon’s renewable fuel standard requires nearly all gasoline sold to be
a 10 percent ethanol blend.
A higher blend of ethanol – known
as E85 – is also available in Oregon. This fuel must be used in flexible fuel
vehicles, which can run any combination of gasoline and ethanol blends. E85 is
available at five public retail locations in Oregon. Additionally, five fleets use
E85, including the Department of Administrative Services, the Department of
Transportation, the Department of Forestry, the Eugene Water and Electric Board,
and the Veterans Affairs Portland Campus.
Several steps are involved in making ethanol available as a vehicle fuel:
- Feedstocks are grown, collected, and transported to an
ethanol production facility.
- Ethanol is made from these feedstocks at a production facility along
with byproducts such as animal feed and corn oil. The fuel is then
transported to a blender/fuel supplier.
- Ethanol is mixed with gasoline by the blender/fuel supplier and
distributed to fueling stations.
We expect non-edible plant
material, rather than corn, will become the dominant source of ethanol in the
future. This “cellulosic” material cannot be used as food, so it wouldn’t
reduce edible resources.
Biodiesel is produced from
a diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, agricultural oils,
and animal fats. The state renewable fuel standard requires five percent of
diesel consumed in state must be biodiesel.
company SeQuential produces most of its fuel from used cooking oil collected
from restaurants and food processors around the region. SeQuential sells its fuel at more than 60 locations in the state.
Several fleets such as the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Eugene Water and Electric Board, Organically
Grown, and the City of Portland use high blends of biodiesel in their fleets.
Hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel is made from fats or vegetable
oils – alone or blended with petroleum – refined by a process called hydrotreating.
This fuel is cleaner and has a lower carbon footprint than petroleum-based
diesel, and it can also operate at colder temperatures than standard diesel or
Several fleets in Oregon use renewable diesel, though most of the renewable
diesel is imported and only available in limited quantities.
Renewable Natural Gas/Biogas
Renewable natural gas
consists of biogas (methane) from landfill recovery, wastewater treatment
plants, anaerobic digesters at dairies, food processing plants, or waste processing facilities that has been cleaned to meet natural gas pipeline standards.
Oregon currently has several of these facilities producing methane and
converting it to electricity.
Many facilities and entities, such as Clean Water
Services in Washington County and the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment
Plant in Portland, are now analyzing the possibility of converting their methane into a higher value transportation fuel instead of generating electricity.