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NEWS | June 28, 2011

Florida National Guard producing alternative fuels at Camp Blanding

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens Florida National Guard

STARKE, Fla. - In an effort to reduce waste and meet recycling goals, the Florida National Guard is producing biodiesel from used vegetable oil to fuel state maintenance vehicles at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

By producing this alternative fuel, the Florida National Guard is not only saving money, but also reducing the amount of waste that comes out of the installation.

“This is the only installation in the nation that has implemented this process,” said Jessika Blersch, the sustainability coordinator for the Florida National Guard’s Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

The program began in January 2010 and is just coming out of the pilot project stage.

Vegetable oil is collected at Camp Blanding’s Consolidated Dining Facility in large drums and then transported to a maintenance facility to be converted into biodiesel.

“Not only are we converting the cooking oil into something useable – in this case the fuel – but we’re also hitting an alternative fuel goal as well,” Blersch said.

The vegetable oil is filtered twice and then pumped into a processor where it is mixed with methanol and sodium hydroxide. The entire process takes approximately 48 hours and produces 100 percent biodiesel.

“It’s something anyone can set up in the garage to make biodiesel with,” she said.

Currently, the process is driven by the amount of vehicles on the installation that can utilize the biodiesel. Camp Blanding has the potential to produce 50-100 gallons per week, and at approximately 67 cents per gallon, the cost savings is a significant benefit for the installation.

“Right now we’re processing a lot more because it’s the busy season as far as lawn mowers are going,” Blersch said.

Using the installation’s waste to produce fuel creates a closed loop situation which eliminates the need to dispose of the used vegetable oil. Biodiesel is also a cleaner burning fuel than regular petro diesel.

“So they’re cutting down by at least 20 percent each time they fill up their tractors and the diesel-run vehicles by using the biodiesel in place of petro diesel,” she said.

The Camp Blanding Environmental Services department recently took third place in the National Guard Bureau’s environmental security awards program in the sustainability category.

“We’re trying to go towards the alternative energy sources as much as we can and the government is trying to take the lead on that,” Blersch said. “Camp Blanding is showing as an example by trying to incorporate these initiatives in trying to address that goal.”



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