City in Colorado Fueling Vehicles with Biogas Produced from Wastewater Treatment Facility

Biogas fueled bus in Grand Junction CO
Grand Valley Transit bus is preparing to refuel. Image courtesy of the DOE.

With more than 260 million registered vehicles and commercial trucks on U.S. roads, it’s no surprise transportation accounts for 67% of America’s total petroleum use.  Since growth is expected to continue in this area, it’s more critical than ever for the commercial, industrial and private/public sectors to explore innovative methods for reducing our dependence on oil.

Grand Junction, Colo., is setting an example for other cities to follow in capitalizing on resources to create alternative fuels. With a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and seed funding from the Energy Department’s State Energy Program, Grand Junction and partners built a 5-mile underground pipeline to transport compressed natural gas (CNG) from a local wastewater treatment facility to a CNG station.  The biogas produced at the facility, which was once flared off, is now being converted to CNG to fuel city-owned fleets and county-owned buses.

Similar to other wastewater treatment and manufacturing facilities, Grand Junction’s Persigo Plant uses an anaerobic digester to break down organic matter in the sewage and produces bio-methane gas as a byproduct. The bio-methane gas is then cleaned and treated to meet transportation fuel quality standards.  The result produces 400-500 gallons daily to fuel 37 city-owned CNG fleet vehicles. This is equivalent to producing 165,000 gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 3 million pounds in a year, according to the city.

Grand Junction held a celebration last week on Earth Day to commemorate the completion of one of the first CNG project of its kind in the U.S.  The project initially began in 2011 when the city implemented the CNG fueling station, also partially funded by the Energy Department. The station first served Grand Junction’s fleet and Grand Valley Transit buses and then opened to the public, filling a void on the map for energy efficient motorists travelling between Denver and Los Angeles.

Through various project phases, the Southern Colorado Clean Cities Coalition, which is also supported by the Energy Department, assisted in identifying funding opportunities through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. It also helped Grand Junction develop a long-term strategic plan.

Grand Junction’s leadership demonstrates that diversifying city-owned fleets – whether it’s through CNG, electric, biodiesel, or hybrid-electric – can significantly reduce our dependence on oil while improving the environment. The Energy Department is committed to leveraging these types of public-private partnerships and resources throughout the nation to accelerate the adoption of of clean energy technologies in our fleets, facilities and homes.

The State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to energy offices in states and U.S. territories to help them advance their clean energy priorities while contributing to national energy goals.

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