City of San Diego switches to renewable diesel

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida Headshot
Updated Oct 29, 2016

San Diego is the latest U.S. city to begin using renewable diesel in its fleet, fuel supplier Neste reported on Friday.

Several California cities, and even the state itself, have switched to the advanced bio-fuel which is among the cleanest burning in the world.

Fleet vehicles in San Diego that will be using renewable diesel include refuse packers, dump trucks, construction equipment and street sweepers.

“Air quality is a significant concern in many cities around the world today. Neste offers a drop-in solution for instantly reducing traffic-related local emissions and improving local air quality,” says Kaisa Hietala, executive vice president of Renewable Products at Neste.

“We are very pleased that our innovative, low-carbon renewable diesel now benefits San Diego, the second largest city in California, as well as its inhabitants.”

Neste reports that by switching from petroleum diesel to waste-based renewable Diesel, San Diego diesel fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by up to 80 percent, contributing to the city’s ambitious climate targets.

Over 1,100 vehicles and equipment, representing approximately 25 percent of the city’s fleet, run on Neste Renewable Diesel, and no performance issues have been reported.

“This change will make a major part of our fleet greener overnight, creating more environmentally-friendly vehicles that are cheaper to maintain,” says Mayor Kelvin L. Faulconer, City of San Diego. “By transitioning to renewable diesel, we’re significantly reducing the pollution caused by city vehicles that serve the public on a daily basis. We’re leading by example and showing other cities how to make common-sense changes to improve the environment around us.”

Neste Renewable Diesel is supplied to San Diego by The Soco Group, one of Neste’s distributors in California.

Other California cities that have switched to renewable diesel include the City of San Francisco, City of Oakland, City of Walnut Creek, City of Carlsbad and County of Sacramento.

Renewable diesel is not biodiesel. The two fuels are derived from some of the same plant and animal fat sources, but it’s how those feedstocks are processed that makes all the difference.

Biodiesel is processed through transesterification, a chemical reaction that occurs usually through the introduction of an acid or base substance which renders the biomass liquid into an oxygenated, combustible fuel.

Neste, the largest supplier of renewable diesel in the world, uses a patented hydrogenolysis process to transform that same biomass liquid into fuel. It’s also known as hydrotreating in the petroleum industry. Neste produces renewable diesel in Europe and Asia.