This article is from the yearlong initiative, Getting to Zero: Decarbonizing Cascadia led by InvestigateWest. In partnership with them, we republish stories from the series as they come out and place excerpts in our newsletter and the full articles online for our readers to access. Read their latest on clean fuels on our website and catch up on the rest of their series including last week's article on renewable electricity.
By Peter Fairley / InvestigateWest
These days Frank Lemos manages a shipping operation, but the former truck driver still gets behind the wheel occasionally to train new drivers or to fill a staffing hole. When he does, he notices a big difference. The firm recently moved away from conventional diesel fuel, and without it there’s something missing: the permeating petroleum smell that drivers wear after a day inside a big rig.
"You come home and you don’t get to just jump in bed if you’re tired. You have to take a shower, or else someone’s going to kick you out of bed,” said Lemos, who is operations manager for Portland-based Titan Freight Systems.
Since last fall, Titan’s rigs, which deliver pallet-loads of goods between Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Idaho, have mostly fueled up with renewable diesel, a biofuel made by refining vegetable oils, livestock tallow and cooking grease instead of crude oil.
It gets the job done just like petroleum diesel, yet generates far less air pollution. That's not just a quality of life benefit. It means Titan’s drivers are breathing less toxic fumes and soot, and bringing less of that pollution home.
Lemos isn’t the only who’s noticed. Robert Bennett, Titan’s maintenance supervisor, said his wife quickly realized that she no longer needed to segregate his work clothes when she does the laundry. "There is definitely a big difference,” Bennett said.
Renewable diesel also yields far less of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases driving climate change. That’s what inspired Titan's shift.
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