Buses to run on ‘chip fat’ in pilot scheme

07 November 2013

• Used cooking oil and other food waste products are being used to fuel London’s red buses in significant quantity for the first time

• Over 120 buses on 10 routes now running on a 20 per cent biodiesel blend. A pilot scheme which could be rolled out across the whole of TfL’s bus fleet in the future

• A cost effective way to reduce CO2 emissions in the city with no mechanical changes required to the buses

• Creating demand to attract investment for a large scale biodiesel refinery in London

120 buses being run on diesel made from used chip fat and other food waste were launched today in a new pilot scheme being spearheaded by the Mayor of London. All of the buses that run from the Barking depot will now run on a blend of 80 per cent regular diesel and 20 per cent biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel which will help cut carbon emissions of each bus by about 15 per cent.

A total of 10 routes which operate from the Barking depot will now run on the new fuel and a 50,000 litre storage tank has been installed at the garage, enabling the biofuel to be mixed on-site, reducing costs and lowering carbon emissions.

London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world, carrying 2.3 billion passengers a year. With this figure set to increase significantly over the coming years it is important to make the fleet as environmentally friendly as possible. Currently the 8,700-strong bus fleet uses around 250 million litres of fuel each year, with 3.7 million litres used by buses operating out of the Barking garage alone.

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Environment and Energy, said: “This is another example of the Mayor’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions and making our city’s transport even cleaner and greener. The Mayor has called for investment in a large scale biodiesel refinery in the capital and with London operating one of the biggest bus fleets in the world, this pilot is an important step in demonstrating to the UK’s biodiesel industry that there is a huge potential demand for it here.”

Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “The introduction of buses powered by biodiesel on London’s roads is a significant development in our wider programme to continually improve the green credentials of the capital’s bus fleet. Using biodiesel recycles waste products, reduces carbon emissions, and we hope that by successfully trialling it we will encourage other transport operators to consider using it too.”

Mark Threapleton, Managing Director for Stagecoach London, said: "Stagecoach was the first bus company to use 100 per cent biofuel back in 2007 and we're delighted to be at the cutting edge in the use of this cleaner, greener biofuel in London. We know from our use of bio-diesel that it has a number of environmental benefits. The fuel is derived from sustainable sources and contributes towards improving the environment in East London. Sustainability is at the heart of our business and we are working hard to attract more people on to our greener, smarter bus services."

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning fuel made from used cooking oil from the catering industry and tallow which is a residue from the meat processing trade. It is estimated that buses running on biodiesel produce 15 per cent less ‘well to wheel’ carbon emissions than an ordinary diesel-powered bus.

The biodiesel pilot is one of the many measures the Mayor has introduced to make London’s bus fleet more environmentally friendly. Other initiatives include operating zero emission hydrogen buses on Route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway and delivering Europe’s largest hybrid bus fleet. Five hundred hybrid buses now operate on the capital’s roads, including the New Bus for London vehicles, with more being introduced in a rolling programme.

By 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid buses in service on London’s streets representing 20 per cent of the total bus fleet.

In addition, TfL has recently reached the half-way mark in an extensive retrofit programme of 900 older buses which involves fitting them with an innovative system called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), reducing emissions of harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by up to 88 per cent. To date, 450 buses have had this equipment fitted with the remainder due to be completed by March 2014.

Notes to editors

1. All bus routes operating from the Stagecoach garage in Barking, east London, are now running on B20 biofuel. They are routes 5, 15, 62, 101, 145, 169, 366, 387, 396, N15 and school / mobility route 687.

2. No mechanical change is needed to allow a bus to run on a 20% blend of biofuel. The biodiesel in this trial is being supplied by Argent Energy with the standard diesel supplied by Prax Petroleum.

3. Standard road diesel (EN590) already has a blend of up to 7% biodiesel allowed within the legislation

4. TfL will test the emissions and fuel economy of one of the buses operating out of the Barking garage at the Millbrook test facility in December 2013.

5. A new blending system - Honeywell Enraf’s Fusion4 Microblender which includes a 50,000 litre storage tank - has been installed at the Stagecoach Barking depot. This enables the B20 biofuel to be mixed on site rather than pre-mixed with standard diesel at the refinery and then transported to the capital. This reduces costs and carbon emissions associated with transporting the fuel.

6. ‘Delivering London’s Energy Future – the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy’ commits to minimising CO2 emissions from transport through the use of low carbon vehicles, technologies and fuels. http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/publications/delivering-londons-energy-future-the-mayors-climate-change-mitigation-and-energy-strategy

7. Argent Energy (UK) Limited pioneered the large scale commercial production of biodiesel in the UK. Today they are the country’s foremost biodiesel producer and their fuel is increasingly giving businesses that rely on transport a means to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions. All Argent’s biodiesel is manufactured from wastes and residues and used by UK and European fuel companies in their diesel. Argent’s B30, a mix of 30 per cent biodiesel in standard diesel, is in use in over 2,000 vehicles in the UK, allowing their fleet customers to make an annual saving greenhouse gas saving of over 75,000 tonnes. For more information visit www.argentenergy.com

8. The GLA commissioned LRS to produce a report on the market opportunity for a biodiesel market in London using UCOs and fats, oils and grease from commercial and domestic sources in the capital. The report can be downloaded here http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/putting-waste-good-use/making-the-most-of-waste