Pierce County ferry system saves $137,770 in fuel costs

Pierce County saved $137,770 in diesel fuel costs for its ferries thanks to a new system that enables the engines to run cleaner and burn fuel more efficiently.

Pierce County saved $137,770 in diesel fuel costs for its ferries thanks to a new system that enables the engines to run cleaner and burn fuel more efficiently.

This translated to a savings of approximately 23,657 gallons of diesel fuel during the first year of operation.

The county installed Emissions Technology, Inc.’s UltraBurn Combustion Catalyst System on the engines of the M/V Steilacoom II and the M/V Christine Anderson for approximately $66,500 in June 2012 following a pilot of the system. Pierce County recovered the cost of the installation in four months.

“The ferry system continuously looks for ways to reduce operational expenses,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “This system hits the trifecta: we save money, burn less fuel and improve air quality.”

The system works by injecting a proprietary aerosol catalyst into the air intake of the diesel engine, according to Texas-based Emissions Technology. The catalyst increases the concentration of reactive oxygen in the combustion chamber, resulting in a more complete combustion of the fuel. This results in increased power and lower concentrations of emissions.

From July 2012 to July 2013, the ferry system recorded a savings of 22.9 percent in fuel costs and a 13.7 percent savings in gallons used compared to the same period a year earlier. Pierce County spent $462,967 in the last year, compared to $600,738 the previous year. The ferry system also used 150,522 gallons a fuel, compared to 174,179 gallons.

“The longer we use the system, the more efficient it becomes,” said Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator. “In the last six months, we’ve seen a savings of 32.2 percent in fuel costs, and 23.4 percent savings in gallons used. The ferry system has also reduced its budget request for fuel costs in 2014 by 20 percent after reviewing the results.”

This was the first time the UltraBurn system has been used on a ferry. It’s used elsewhere on engines in the fields of construction, mining, oil and gas drilling, marine, rail transportation and more.

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