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Truck in the Park 

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), Yellowstone National Park and the University of Idaho successfully demonstrated the use of an alternative fuel in Yellowstone. The fuel is rapeseed (canola) ethyl ester, produced from rapeseed oil reacted with ethanol that is made from potato waste generated by the food processing industry. Yellowstone National Park offered a unique opportunity to demonstrate this low emission, biodegradable fuel in an environmentally sensitive and extremely cold area.

In February 1995, Dodge truck Inc. donated to the project a new 1995 -ton 4x4 pickup ($30,000 value). Since that time, the truck, driven by Yellowstone employees, has gone over 100,000 miles on 100 percent biodiesel. It averages about 17 miles per gallon, the same as when it was tested with regular diesel fuel during baseline data development. No modifications were made to the truck's engine or fuel system. The emissions test conducted on the truck showed that smoke, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide were reduced by using the biodiesel. Tests also showed that the sweet odor of biodiesel exhaust does not attract bears, which was a concern to park managers.

In September 1998, the truck's engine was completely torn down and analyzed, revealing very little wear and no carbon build-up. The truck is now in Phase II, in which the intent is to accumulate 200,000 miles over the next three years.

The park developed an extensive education program for the public. Lectures and information exchanges have occurred at visitor centers, trailheads, greening conferences, and numerous educational institutions.

The growing and harvesting of rapeseed, the oil extraction process, and fuel demonstration are all accomplished within a tri-state region around Yellowstone. The park will continue to commit to spearhead projects and partnerships that show regional success.

In addition, all public service stations in Yellowstone began supplying ethanol blend in September 2000. The project is part of the greening effort to reduce pollution from all vehicles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The pollution prevention method will reduce carbon monoxide (by 20 percent), fine particulate matter (by 36 percent), unburned hydrocarbons (20 percent) and air toxics (by 22 percent) from all gasoline powered vehicles operating in Yellowstone, based on a study done by the Colorado School of Mines. The National Park Service has used ethanol blend (a blend of 10 percent fuel ethanol and 90 percent unleaded gasoline) year-round in their administrative fleet since June 1, 1998 without problems.

The "Truck in the Park" Project was designed with two purposes: to define a market for biodiesel and to provide data on emissions and performance that could be used by land managers, regulators, and providers of commercial tourism transportation. This project was a first-step to reduce environmental impacts resulting from diesel fuel use in the tourism industry. Basically, the project placed a unaltered diesel pickup truck into service in Yellowstone National Park, fueled this truck with 100 percent rapeseed ethyl ester, and monitored performance and emissions. Data were collected to determine the reliability, benefits, and costs of using biodiesel in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding region. The project included fuel characterization, detailed performance and emissions tests before and after (approximately) 160,000 km (100,000 miles) (using EPA protocols), and other quality control testing to document benefits and costs. The technical data and results of this demonstration are being documented in other papers and referred to in this text.

Howard Haines of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Jim Evanoff of the National Parks Service report about the project in a paper titled Environmental and Regulatory Benefits Derived from the Truck in the Park Biodiesel Emissions Testing and Demonstration in Yellowstone National Park (PDF 80KB). The paper describes the implications of their results for the Yellowstone region and the challenges of bringing biodiesel fuel technology to market. 

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