Kansas Salt Mine Goes Entirely Biodiesel

Air quality is a critical issue for workers who use diesel engines in confined spaces, and using biodiesel fuel in mining equipment is one way to help protect their health.

The Kansas Soybean Commission (KSC), Hutchinson Salt Company and National Biodiesel Board (NBB) recently hosted a tour of the salt company’s mine in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Hutchinson Salt Co. is the first mine of any kind to use B100 (100 percent biodiesel). “We use B100 biodiesel in everything underground that runs on diesel,” said Max Liby, VP of Manufacturing for the mine. “The main benefit is we’ve cleaned up soot in the air and have cut particulates. Workers, particularly the operator of the loaders, like the soy biodiesel much better because they say particulates do not get in their nostrils and the air is noticeably cleaner. Hutchinson Salt Co. began using biodiesel in June 2003, and used 31,229 gallons of B100 in the first year. “Biodiesel is a great fuel for use inside mines,” said Harold Kraus, soybean farmer and NBB Director. “It is made from a natural product, so the air mine workers breathe from B100 is also natural. Besides cutting emissions, biodiesel also has a pleasant odor when it burns.” According to the ABB, Biodiesel is the first and only alternative fuel to have fully completed the Heath Effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act. Dr. “There is a recognition that petroleum-based products, with their toxins, are affecting the health of the people,” said Bailus Walker, MPH, past president of the American Lung Association of Washington, D.C. “There’s no question about it; the epidemiological data is there, and it is solid. We need to explore in a more aggressive way alternative fuels. I would strongly recommend, as a health professional, we take a hard look at what is being accomplished with biodiesel.” The salt mine is one of more than 500 fleets using biodiesel. That number is expected to continue to rise, in part due to a biodiesel tax incentive bill that will take effect as law on January 1. The tax incentive should make biodiesel more accessible to the general public as it will significantly narrow the cost gap between biodiesel and regular diesel fuel, which will in turn fuel demand and supply.
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