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Kokomo Produces Own Biodiesel, Becomes First in State

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The cost of diesel fuel was a factor that drove Kokomo to inquire about making its own biofuels, in addition to removing waste from city sewers, spurring economic development and aiding the environment.

That was a substantial chunk of the money we use to transport waste. So we decided to look into biofuels to try to reduce our cost,” said David Galvin, city sustainability manager.

Galvin said Kokomo uses an average of 10,000 gallons of diesel each month. He hopes the city will, by year’s end, manufacture up to 20 percent of its total need.

They’ll do that gallon by gallon, since the small operation can currently only produce 55 gallons per day. The fuel, deemed “K-Fuel,” is manufactured using cooking oil from various restaurants in the city. He said the idea is home-grown.

“The mayor knew a gentleman here in Kokomo who ran his personal vehicle off used cooking oil,” he said.

Galvin expects the city to recoup its $60,000 investment within one year. Each gallon costs just 80 cents to manufacture. But Galvin says the city won’t save money on fuel alone.

“Greases, fats , oils – we’re reducing the amount of it, at least, getting in our sewer systems, ultimately getting into our wastewater treatment facility. And those costs are nearly 50 percent of our annual maintenance price tag,” Galvin said.

Galvin said the city hasn’t hired anyone new for the project. All work will be done by existing employees. He said Kokomo is the only city in the state making its own gas and that puts them in uncharted territory.

There’s a larger picture, not only with the savings of fuel and the maintenance, but the economic development aspects of the project are large and to some degrees, unknown,” he said. “We’re excited about it, but there are things out there we can’t just expect because we don’t have another model to go by.”

Some trucks run on five percent biodiesel, while some run on a nearly 100 percent mix. All city trucks that run on diesel, however, are able to use K-Fuel.

Daniel Robison

Daniel started as WFIU's Assistant News Director in July 2008. He graduated with a B.A. in history in 2007 and earned an M.A. in journalism two years later. Daniel hosts Ask the Mayor weekly and the occasional Noon Edition. He also hosts Morning Edition on Thursdays, sleepily. Daniel's beats include everything News Director Stan Jastrzebski wants him to cover. And it feels strange to type biography of myself in the third person like this. So that's that.

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