Smyrna using biodiesel for city’s vehicle fleet
by Noreen Cochran
December 09, 2012 02:00 AM | 6468 views | 9 9 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Public Works Assistant Director Frank Martin and Director of Public Works Scott Stokes inspect the biodiesel refining machine at the Smyrna Public Works facility on Tuesday afternoon.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
Public Works Assistant Director Frank Martin and Director of Public Works Scott Stokes inspect the biodiesel refining machine at the Smyrna Public Works facility on Tuesday afternoon.
Staff/Todd Hull
SMYRNA — Just in time for the holidays, Smyrna began converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel for its truck fleet last month.

The city’s new biodiesel plant was paid for by a $208,000 grant from the $3.2 billion Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Energy, meant to “deploy the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have,” according to the department’s website.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Bennett said the plant does just that.

“Biodiesel cleans the fuel lines. It runs and burns cleaner. It extends the life of the vehicle. It’s easier on the engines and creates a whole lot less pollution,” she said.

Biodiesel also relieves sanitation and stormwater staffs and budgets by keeping fats, oil and grease out of the pipeline, said Ann Kirk, director of the city’s Keep Smyrna Beautiful campaign.

Not to mention it saves money, beginning with shaving off $1.20 or more per gallon of diesel, which has prices hovering around $4 in metro Atlanta.

The F-450 and F-550 pickup trucks used by the water and sewer departments and for trash pickup do not need retrofitting beyond a $10 fuel filter to use the biodiesel.

Nor will the city need to hire anyone to run the conversion plant. Fleet manager Mark Breugh and Public Works Assistant Director Frank Martin can operate the machinery bought from Tecumseh, Kan.-based Alternative Energy Systems Integrated Solutions, and they in turn will train other existing staff members in the process.

The city has a ready supply of raw materials: Residents and restaurants can donate used cooking oil at seven collection stations around the city, which also dispense empty plastic jugs.

“You can pick up a container at any location,” Kirk said. “Return it to the cage, leave it curbside or bring it to the recycling center. Swap it out just like a propane tank.”

The city notified residents of the collection efforts by social media and its online newsletter, which helped stockpile 400 gallons of oil before the plant went online Nov. 28.

“The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we got 22 gallons of oil,” Kirk said.

Public Works director Scott Stokes said the city began filling up the eight 250-gallon holding tanks 2011.

“We’ve been collecting for a year, on and off,” he said. “We started in earnest in the spring.”

The project has been in the works since 2009, when city officials visited Hoover, Ala., a Birmingham suburb, to inspect a prototype.

Grant money came through in December 2010 and the project was announced in February of this year.

“It’s been a long process because searching for equipment took longer than expected,” Kirk said

The conversion plant, which occupies a 1,200-square-foot addition to the public works department’s Broyles Road facility, combines the vegetable oil with a mixture of potassium hydroxide and methanol to make the biodiesel.

“We can make 80 gallons in five or six hours,” Breugh said.

The grant included enough money for an additional plant in the shed, which is big enough for two biodiesel processors.

“It depends on the raw materials,” Stokes said. “If we get it, we’ll expand.”

If two plants operate at full capacity, making more than 25,000 gallons a year, the can city reduce its nearly 100,000-gallon annual consumption of diesel by more than a quarter.

“At maximum production of biodiesel, the city would have the ability to reduce diesel fuel consumption by approximately 27 percent per year at a savings of approximately $32,000,” Bennett said.

The city expects to hit that mark in 2020, followed by a 25 percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions by 2025.

Kirk said Smyrna is the only metro Atlanta city she knows of with its own biodiesel plant; however, it is not the only municipality interested in the concept.

“We have been using biodiesel for the last four years,” Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton said. “We purchase it from a local vendor. Within the next 30 days we will have a request for proposals out for alternative fuel options.”



* Fire station 1, 2620 Atlanta Road 

* Fire station 2, 642 Concord Road 

* Fire station 3, 2825 Park Road 

* Fire station 4, 4595 S. Cobb Drive 

* Fire station 5, 750 Cooper Lake Road 

* Recycling center, 645 Smyrna Hill Drive 

* Public works, Broyles Road at Atlanta Road

Comments-icon Post a Comment
@ pot/kettle
December 11, 2012
Your in point!

You don't think higher than an elementary level.

You represent your mayor well!
efaimesp the
December 12, 2012
MK, I am not Sean, whoever Sean is.
mk-dishonest city
December 11, 2012
The city of Smyrna has fallen way behind in so many ways.

The information that citizens should have, is kept under lock & key at city hall.

Keeping citizens in the dark,.. makes it easier to play a shell game.

The misspent funds & poor zoning practices have made Smyrna very undesirable.

The comments below my 1st, show Smyrna's lack of an educated citizenry.

I can assure you, neighbor, responding to the facts I post, w/ you're juvenile comments, don't help w/ Smyrna's already 'poor' perception.

It's not hard to see w/ your own eyes, there is something very wrong , this side of the tracks!!
Pot and Kettle Black
December 11, 2012
MK, you want to talk about lack of educated citizenry? Hi,Pot. I'm Kettle. Just one of your sentences: you're juvenile comments.....MK, if you don't know the difference between the contraction you're [you are] and the word your, you certainly have no business whatsoever calling anyone non-educated.
to sean,.grow up...
December 10, 2012's your mentality that is keeping Smyrna down. And Smyrna IS down & out.

Businesses & developers are steering clear of the city limits.

It's quite obvious when you see Vinings, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Chamblee, Norcross, Woodstock(rope mill trails were awesome yesterday!!), Duluth, Suwanee, Roswell, Decatur & Brookhaven! Each one of those are bringing in high end retail, residential & business.

Smyrna is VACANT! Why would anyone sane cheer for failure??

Why are you supporting a group of thugs that are running a private country club in this city,.. while most of the city is rundown, unattractive & becoming more poor.

As the city declines, your neighbors lose more & more value in their homes. Is this what you want?

I think the 50,000 citizens here deserve much better governance.

Guessing you might be one of the crooks, cos you sure haven't tried to help out the Smyrna Heights neighborhood.

Cities that run off businesses, don't know how to attract new businesses & seem to believe an uneducated citizenry is better( at least, easier to fool),..than a sophisticated, educated, citizenry,... is certain to fail.

It is unfortunate, than instead of having a rational dialogue, you search out my comments, just to reply on a 2nd grade level!
mk-dishonest city
December 09, 2012
How much of the $208,000 was spent on the processor?

A little research shows a commercial 80 gallon tank processor kit that produces 450 gallons of fuel per day costs in the $10,000 neighborhood. A very high end processor that produces 1,000 gal. per day can cost upwards to $17,000.

Wondering how much grant money was not spent on this project.

Also, just to break even at a savings of $32,000 per year, is 6 & 1/2 years!!

We have an uneducated city staff. Ann Kirk has actually told me Smyrna is way ahead of states like Co. & Wa. as far as recycling.

OMG!! Pitiful, Ann!!

Smyrna even refuses to offer curbside single stream recycling!!

Decatur recycles 52% of its curbside waste! What is Smyrna's number?

Let's talk about the environment. The BEST thing for AIR QUALITY is TREES!! Trees Atlanta has planted 88,000 trees since 1985.

Smyrna has probably cut down that many! Glock should have never been allowed to clear cut 13 acres of pristine, natural wildlife habitat. Smyrna makes no investment in its environment.

By now, the city should require city parks & landscaping to be XERISCAPES! That is planting native, drought resistant plants & grasses,.. NOT pansies & sod!!

See the poor environmental practices ALL OVER Smyrna!

Street lights- NO trees!!

Cement sidewalks- NO paths & trails!

No bike lanes!

No downlighting at parks & tennis courts/ballparks!(see Brawner , city hall Toleson Park , & Atlanta Rd.- those lights are VERY BAD for the wildlife & eco-system!!!

Cutting trees for GAS stations & sidewalks is NOT very smart!

There are no community initiatives to protect the environment in Smyrna!

The bio diesal idea was just to get get hold of grant money,.. that's all!

Scott Stokes ,.. how much was spent on equipment??
Me Op
December 10, 2012
You are just an unhappy person. Smyrna can't fix that. Try seeing the glass half full just for a day. You will be happier!
December 10, 2012
Danger! Danger! Angry Hippie Alert (AHA)

Hippie, unless you live in a zero carbon footprint, 100% recycled, low environmental impact, natural materials, self-sustaining, mud hut ecosystem under the big skies of Montana... and naturally graze on flora not a part of the indigenous wildlife's dietary needs... Then you contribute to negative environmental issues/damaging activities, too.

"Hello Pot, I'm Kettle... Guess what color you are, too?"

Not saying folks shouldn't incorporate environmentally beneficial practices in our lives for the betterment of this world, environment, and society... Side note, you're biodiesel is good with me Smyrna... Just saying that you went over your quota of "Exclamation Points of Feigned Indignation" issued by the Angry Hippie Society (AHS?). (Including that random sucker you put between "many" and "Glock"... geez, based off your Turrets punctuation, I'm surprised you didn't stroke out typing that line)

Much love

-- This service provided by your local Early Angry Hippie Alert System... this was not a test --
Oh Dear
December 10, 2012
Your half-empty glass left out the Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, among many other things. I notice you have an inate ability to acknowledge the bad and ignore the good.
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