More Florida Boaters Turning to Biodiesel
Fort Lauderdale · More South Florida boaters may soon be turning to vegetables to run their engines.
By mid-April, TransMontaigne, the largest fuel terminal operator at Port Everglades, will begin offering biodiesel products.
The fuel, made from soybeans or vegetable oil, is a cleaner-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel.
Proponents say it works in any diesel engine with few or no modifications and can be used in pure form or blended with petroleum diesel.
The company says the renewable-fuels center will be the first of its size in South Florida.
Biodiesel is currently delivered from other areas, which increases costs for such buyers as Broward County's Water Taxi.
Boaters won't be able to pull up to Port Everglades to fill up.
But the fuel should be more readily available to wholesalers, private fleets and other transportation-related companies.
Biodiesel costs more than regular diesel, up to 40 cents a gallon more if delivery costs are added.
But prices are expected to get more competitive as the demand and availability increases.
Boaters who want the fuel should ask their marina dockmaster to offer it, said Russ Teall of the National Biodiesel Board.
Frank Herhold, executive of the Marina Industries Association of South Florida, a Fort Lauderdale-based trade group with about 800 members, said biodiesel shows a lot of promise for boaters.
"It will go through a period of low interest, low activity.
"But once people try it, I think it will take off," Herhold said.
The Water Taxi, which operates 16 boats on the Intracoastal Waterway and New River in Fort Lauderdale, switched to biodiesel three years ago.
Bob Bekhoff, president of Water Taxi Inc., said biodiesel is better for the environment because it reduces harmful emissions.
"We have experienced performance similar to petroleum diesel, but have found less engine wear and tear because of biodiesel's increased lubricity, and easier boat cleanup because there is less soot," Bekhoff said.
A new federal tax incentive effective Jan. 1 gives up to 20 cents per gallon to blenders of the fuel.
The savings are then expected to be passed to buyers.
The National Biodiesel Board estimates that 25 million gallons of biodiesel were sold in the U.S. last year, although it still captures less than 1 percent of the market.
Earlier this week, John Deere announced that it plans to use B2, a blend of two percent biodiesel fuel, as the preferred factory-fill in its diesel-propelled machines made in the U.S.
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