Eastman Chemical Switches to Biodiesel

Eastern Tennessee chemical maker switching to B20.

Published: 22-Jan-2005

KINGSPORT, Tenn., Jan. 18,  2005 -- Eastman Chemical Company (NYSE: EMN) announced today that it will soon introduce a new tool to help curb air pollution at its Kingsport site.

Beginning in March, the Tennessee Eastman Operations will begin switching fuel supplies for more than 200 vehicles from diesel to biodiesel, an alternative fuel that carries many environmental benefits.

"Biodiesel is a relatively new diesel fuel that, in its pure form, is biodegradable, nontoxic and extremely easy to transport and store," said Jerry Repass, vice president and general manager of Eastman’s Tennessee and Texas operations. "We’ll be using the most common form of biodiesel called B20, a mixture consisting of 80 percent conventional petrodiesel and 20 percent biodiesel. And that should help us reduce emissions of several pollutants."

Pure biodiesel is made from natural, renewable sources such as canola, sunflower, cottonseed, or other vegetable oils or animal fats. Most biodiesel in the U.S. is produced from soybean oil. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a B20 biodiesel blend can help reduce emissions of various pollutants when compared to conventional diesel. Potential benefits are:

EPA further believes there is strong evidence to support a correlation between the use of biodiesel and a reduction in greenhouse gases as well as many air toxics. B20 biodiesel carries other benefits as well, including greater engine lubricity, fewer odors, and less wear and tear on the vehicles. It also requires no equipment modifications, meaning the switch to biodiesel can be made with virtually no costs.

"As far as we know, this will be the first large use of biodiesel in Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia," explained Darren Curtis, Fleet Administrator and Staff Engineer for the Plant Transportation Department at the Kingsport site. Curtis said Eastman expects to use in excess of 60,000 gallons of biodiesel through the remainder of this year. "By itself, this is just a small accomplishment. The real success will come when others in the region make the switch and usage expands beyond Eastman. That’s when the air quality benefits will really begin to take effect."

Eastman plans to start the transition using a fuel mixture consisting of 5 percent biodiesel and expects to have all of its diesel-burning vehicles switched to B20 biodiesel by April 1. 

"We don’t see any reason to delay a good thing," Curtis explained. "This is an easy, inexpensive way to help improve air quality and we’re hopeful that others in the region will take up the challenge and switch their vehicles to biodiesel as well."

Headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., Eastman Chemical Company manufactures and markets chemicals, fibers and plastics worldwide. The company has approximately 12,000 employees and had 2003 sales of US$5.8 billion.

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