The U.S. EPA has granted the first approval for an advanced biofuel conversion system for the heavy trucks to Optimus Technologies. The system is also the first to achieve compliance for use with pure biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil.

The solution is based on a combination of Optimus’ Vector bi-fuel (diesel or biofuel) conversion system -- hardware and software that bolts-on to existing diesel engines -- and certified, pure biofuel. Fuels tested were derived from a variety of bio-sources including non-food grade corn oil, recycled cooking oil, and pure biodiesel (B100). Optimus says such solutions have been available in Europe for more than a decade.

“We’re very excited that the EPA has approved our technology,” said CEO Colin Huwyler, “Our solution represents a tangible opportunity for fleets to shrink their operating costs while improving the environment.  And, our solution does not require multi-million dollar start-up costs like compressed natural gas does.”

According to Optimus, fleet operators have been surprised to find that CNG solutions require capital-intensive modifications to fueling stations and maintenance facilities, extending payback periods well beyond 5 years. Optimus’ solution can leverage current facilities with only minor modifications, offering paybacks as little as one year.

Optimus claims the Vector solution can reduce fleet fuel costs up to 25% and lifecycle emissions up to 80% without the prohibitive start-up costs of CNG.

Optimus currently works with a network of advanced biofuel suppliers whose fuel meets the Optimus standard.

“We are very glad that Optimus has secured EPA approval,” stated Rory Gaunt, CEO of Lifecycle Renewables, a renewable fuel provider based outside of Boston, Mass. “We have been a strong supporter of Optimus’ efforts. Now, we will be able to expand our market reach and grow into servicing commercial and government fleets with our high quality, renewable fuels.”

Emissions tests conducted for Optimus’ approval in May were performed and validated by the West Virginia University Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions. The results showed a significant overall reduction in tailpipe emissions in comparison to diesel, the company claims. Specifically, particulate matter was reduced by about 40%. Further, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions were reduced with all fuels tested, including when used with B100.

The Vector system was approved for use on Navistar DT466 engines between the model years 2004 and 2006. Field trials and certification tests on other engines are currently underway.