Cleaner Transportation

icon_biodiesel_greenBiodiesel – For information about biodiesel, biodiesel vehicles, and biodiesel production in Virginia.

icon_natgas_greenClean Diesel – Information about clean diesel.

icon_ethanol_greenEthanol – Information about ethanol, E85 ethanol, and flex fuel vehicles

icon_lpg_greenPropane – Information about liquid petroleum gas, propane, as a fuel and for vehicles

SPDAPlogoSoutheast Propane Autogas Development Program – Our largest project is a DoE funded initiative to implement propane-powered vehicles and associated refueling infrastructure that will displace more than 15.7 million gallons of gasoline and prevent over 16,000 tons of airborne pollutants all while leveraging domestic fuel sources.

icon_cng_greenNatural Gas – Information about natural gas fuel and vehicles.

icon_hydrogen_greenHydrogen and Fuel Cells – Information about hydrogen fuel cell fuel and vehicles

Building a Hydrogen Economy in Virginia – Fuel cells and hydrogen-sourced energy are regarded as viable long-range technologies that one day could alleviate the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, reduce harmful emissions, and create thousands of new jobs.

icon_electricity_greenElectricity – Information about electric vehicles and Virginia initiatives

Hybrid Electric Vehicles – Information about hybrid electric vehicles

Plug-in Electric Vehicles – Information about plug-in electric vehicles

icon_idle_red_greenIdle Reduction and Efficiency – Information about idle reduction technologies.

Clean Cities 2013 Vehicle Buyer’s Guide – The expanding availability of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles makes it easier than ever to reduce petroleum use, cut emissions, and save on fuel costs. This guide features a comprehensive list of vehicles set to hit the market in model year 2013.



Biodiesel Quick Facts10479111266_b9ae9b6645_k

  • Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable fuel that can be used instead of petroleum-based diesel.
  • This fuel can be made from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. It is also nontoxic and biodegradable.
  • Biodiesel is typically used as a blend of both petroleum diesel and biodiesel. Pure biodiesel is referred to as B100.
  • The percent oxygen in biodiesel is about 10-12% higher than in regular petroleum diesel, resulting in reduced pollution. There is also a very low level of sulfur, which decreases air pollutants as well.
  • WATCH: Biodiesel Basics
  • Read more: Biodiesel Fact Sheet

Biodiesel Stations

Use the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Station Locator to find public biodiesel stations in Virginia.
Locations are subject to change, so we recommend calling the stations to verify location, hours of operation, and access. 

Biodiesel stations have very similar infrastructure to conventional diesel stations. Blends up to B20 can be dispensed with the same pumps and stored in the same tanks that would be used for regular diesel. Because biodiesel does tend to gel in cold weather, some parts of the dispensing system may need to be insulated and protected from freezing.

Biodiesel Blends

  • B100 – This blend is pure biodiesel. It is less common than the lower level blends because there is a lack of regulatory incentives and pricing. This blend can be used in some engines built after 1994 with certain compatible material for parts. There is also lower energy content per gallon as compared to regular diesel. B100 requires special handing and some potential equipment modifications.
  • B20 – Composed of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel, this blend is the most commonly used biodiesel blend in the US. This fuel avoids the cold weather performance issues seen with B100 and also qualifies for biodiesel fuel credits under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. B20 and lower level blends generally do not require engine modifications.
  • Lower Level Blend- Fuels containing 5% or less of biodiesel are approved for safe operation in any compression-ignition engine that is designed to operate on petroleum diesel. These blends can be used in diesel cars and trucks, tractors, boats, and electrical generators.


The Benefits of Using Biodiesel


  • Using biodiesel reduces petroleum consumption: use of any blend of biodeisel will reduce overall use of petroleum and replace it with renewable-based fuel produced in the U.S.
  • Biodiesel is better for the environment: Biodiesel can substantially reduce tailpipe emissions, including unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Nitrogen oxide emissions can also be reduced to near-zero levels when biodiesel is used in combination with emission control reduction technology. The average emission reductions compared to the percent biodiesel can be viewed in the figure to the right. This shows that as biodiesel percentage increases, several air pollutants decrease while NOx emissions may increase by up to 10%.
  • Biodiesel is a safer fueling option: Biodiesel is nontoxic, meaning it will cause far less environmental damage if it is spilled or released. Biodiesel also has a higher flashpoint (130°C) than regular diesel (52°C).
  • Using biodiesel blends can increase engine operation: Biodiesel increases fluid lubricity, which is needed in diesel engines to keep moving parts from wearing prematurely. Biodiesel can increase lubricity to diesel fuels at blend levels as low as 1%.

What Vehicles Can Use Biodiesel and How Do They Perform?

Biodiesel and conventional diesel vehicles are essentially the same. Many light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles are able to run on biodiesel even though they may not be distinguished as “alternative fuel” vehicles. There is a minimal power loss and a slight reduction in fuel economy when using B100. B20 users report no or minimal difference in fuel economy when using this blend over traditional diesel. Biodiesel does have a lower energy content per unit of volume than conventional diesel fuel, meaning that the driving range of biodiesel is lower than that of conventional diesel fuel

The cold-flow properties of biodiesel blends vary depending on the amount of biodiesel in the blend. The smaller the percentage of biodiesel in the blend, the better it performs in cold temperatures. Regular No. 2 diesel and B5 perform about the same in cold weather. Both biodiesel and No. 2 diesel have some compounds that crystallize in very cold temperatures. In winter weather, manufacturers combat crystallization in No. 2 diesel by adding flow improvers. For the best cold weather performance, drivers should use B20 made with No. 2 diesel manufactured for cold weather

State and Federal Laws and Incentives for Biodiesel

To view Virginia incentives and laws for biodiesel, please click here.

To view Federal laws and incentives for biodiesel, please click here.

Case Studies

Dragon Run Biodiesel Project

Arlington B20 Study

Arlington B20 Implementation Study

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Clean Diesel

Because diesel engines can operate for 20 to 30 years, many older, dirtier diesel engines are still in use. There are many strategies and programs, especially from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to help make these engines cleaner. Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, EPA offers funding to assist eligible partners in building diesel emission reduction programs that improve air quality and public health. Virginia Clean Cities and our stakeholders have been successful in numerous programs and this page can be a resource for future programs.

These clean diesel options can include:

    • Using Cleaner fuels
    • Reduced idling
    • Retrofitting engines with verified technologies
    • Maintaining equipment properly
    • Gaining Operational efficiencies and
    • Replacing Older equipment with certified cleaner models


Buses, medium- or heavy-duty trucks, marine engines, and locomotives qualify, as well as non-road and stationary engines and cargo handling equipment.

Additional federal information can be found at

Funding sources include:

National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance program – to deploy EPA certified technologies – competitive grants – contact VCC if you would like to partner.

State Clean Diesel Grant Program – An allocation that makes funds directly available to states to establish programs – Contact VCC if you would like to partner on future grants.

Successful Clean Diesel Projects in Virginia and the Region:

(1) In April 2010, Virginia Clean Cities and partners were awarded funds for The Virginia Construction Diesel Emissions Reduction Initiative as a public-private partnership spearheaded by Virginia Clean Cities at James Madison University and Luck Stone Corporation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program has provided funding to support the repower and replacement of 11 pieces of Luck Stone’s off-road equipment including non-highway trucks and rubber tire loaders operating in the City of Richmond, Charlottesville, Leesburg, and Burkeville. The project’s ultimate goal is to reduce the overall emissions footprint of the Luck Stone fleet. The partnership has chosen diesel engine repowers as the method of accomplishing this goal. Engine repowers will be beneficial for several reasons, including emissions impact, the quantifiable reliability of the method, and it’s overall cost effectiveness. For the project, older model machines with unregulated Tier 1 diesel engines were identified as prime candidates for upgrade.

This innovative, ambitious project is the first of its kind in Virginia and will contribute for many years to the reduction of criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gases, as well as contribute to the creation of approximately 20 jobs. The project was also be performed in several areas that are in the top 10% of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s diesel highway emissions rankings, which suggests that the work proposed will present significant public health benefits. Specifically, the project is expected to net reductions of 30.85 tons of NOx, 2.03 tons of PM, 2.74 tons of HC, and 11.93 tons of CO annually. Through the accomplishment of these goals, the Virginia Construction Diesel Emissions Reduction Initiative will help pave the way towards a cleaner, more efficient construction industry outlook for the Commonwealth.

(2) In June 2009, Virginia Clean Cities was awarded a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency of $1 million, through the Recovery Act, to reduce the amount of diesel burned in state government vehicles by either retrofitting or replacing interested parties’ refuse haulers, city buses, city school buses, and other government vehicles. VCC agreed to match in cost share the awarded grant total and make the project worth $2,048,043 and given a timeline of two years, would use the money to retrofit or replace 64 vehicles total running off of diesel.

After multiple case studies were conducted and RFP’s were submitted for the project, VCC was able to submit a successful grant working with Hampton Roads Transit to retrofit 35 city buses, the City of Richmond to replace one refuse hauler, Spotsylvania County to replace four city school buses, and the City of Chesapeake to replace 24 vehicles total (10 refuse haulers). The proposal required the vehicles to be no older than 15 years and they had to be on the road and in good operable condition. Retrofitted vehicles were installed with diesel particulate filters (DPF’s) and the replaced vehicles were scrapped and replaced with a new natural gas vehicle.

Over the two year completion of the project, VCC served as the project manager, coordinating amongst project partners and vendors, and handled reporting duties to ensure timely and successful completion of the project. VCC also worked with all fleet partners to ensure actions taken, maximize emissions reductions. The four government entities would directly purchase the new technologies, oversee the installation of the retrofits and the scrappage of the old trucks as necessary, and would report these to VCC to be reimbursed.

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Photo: Flickr/Gates Foundation

Emerging Fuels

Photo: Flickr/Gates Foundation

Photo: Flickr/Gates Foundation

What are Emerging Fuels?

Emerging fuels are alternative fuels that are under development or already in use.  Like other alternatives, these fuels can increase energy security, reduce emissions, improve vehicle performance, and stimulate the economy.  Some may also qualify for federal and state incentives and are considered alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Below are brief overviews of the emerging alternative fuels in the market provided by the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Emerging Alternative Fuels page and the Clean Cities Blog’s Emerging Fuels blog post.

Biobutanol (Butyl Alcohol):

Composition and Production: Biobutanol is a 4-carbon alcohol that can be produced from the same feedstocks as ethanol, including corn, sugar beets, and other biomass wastes.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: Biobutanol can be blended with other fuels for use in conventional gasoline vehicles. Similar to methanol and ethanol, biobutanol blends of 85% or more with gasoline are alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Benefits: Benefits include higher energy content, increased energy security, and fewer emissions. Biobutanol has higher energy content because its energy density is 10% to 20% lower than gasoline’s, which makes its energy content relatively high among gasoline alternatives.  Biobutanol can be produced domestically from a variety of feedstocks which increases energy security, while creating U.S. jobs. Finally, biobutanol produces fewer emissions because the carbon dioxide captured by growing feedstocks reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions by balancing carbon dioxide released from burning biobutanol.

For more information please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Biobutanol page.

Drop-In Biofuels:

Composition and Production: Drop-in biofuels are hydrocarbon fuels that are substantially similar to petroleum-based gasoline, diesel, or jet fuels. They can be produced from various biomass feedstocks, such as crop residues, woody biomass, dedicated energy crops, vegetable oils, fats, greases or algae.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: Drop-in biofuels are in an early stage of development, with several commercial plants in the United States and abroad. The goal for drop-in fuels is to meet existing diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel quality specifications and be ready to “drop-in” to existing infrastructure by being chemically indistinguishable from petroleum derived fuels.

Benefits: Benefits include engine and infrastructure compatibility, increased energy security, fewer emissions, and more flexibility.  Drop-in fuels are expected to be substantially similar to their petroleum counterparts and therefore minimize compatibility issues with existing infrastructure and engines. Drop-in fuels increase energy security because they can be produced domestically from a variety of feedstocks.  Carbon dioxide captured by growing feedstocks reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions by balancing carbon dioxide released from burning drop-in fuels so there are also fewer emissions released.  Drop-in fuels are replacements for diesel, jet fuel, and gasoline so there is more flexibility with this fuel, allowing for multiple products from various feedstocks and production technologies.

For more information please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC)  Drop-In Biofuels page.


Composition and Production: Methanol, or wood alcohol, has similar chemical and physical fuel properties to ethanol. Methanol can be produced using various feedstocks, including carbon-based feedstocks, such as coal. However, natural gas is currently the most economical feedstock.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: In the 1990s, 100% methanol and 85% methanol/15% gasoline blends (M85) were used in compatible vehicles, similar to ethanol flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) on the market today. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is currently researching ways to use methanol for fuel cell vehicles.

Benefits: Benefits include lower production costs, improved safety, and increased energy security.  Methanol is cheap to produce relative to other alternative fuels and therefore has lower production costs. There is improved safety when dealing with methanol because it has a lower risk of flammability than gasoline. Methanol can be manufactured from a variety of carbon-based feedstocks, such as coal so its use can also help reduce U.S. dependence on imported petroleum and increase energy security.

For more information please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Methanol page.

Renewable Natural Gas (Biomethane):

Composition and Production:Renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane, is pipeline-quality gas that is fully interchangeable with fossil natural gas. RNG is essentially biogas (also known as swamp gas, landfill gas, or digester gas) that has been processed to purity standards. Biogas is typically composed of 50-80% methane, 20-50% carbon dioxide, and trace gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. It is produced by decomposing organic matter, such as sewage, animal byproducts, and agricultural, industrial, and municipal solid wastes and therefore can be produced from landfills, which are the 3rd largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U.S. Biogas can also be recovered in livestock operations by collecting animal manure and delivering it to an anaerobic digester, which stabilizes and optimizes methane production.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: Renewable natural gas can be used in existing natural gas vehicles without modification but must be refined to meet pipeline specifications.

Benefits: Benefits include increased energy security, fewer emissions, better economics, and a cleaner environment. Biogas offsets non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, and fossil fuel-derived natural gas therefore increasing energy security. It reduces emissions by preventing methane release in the atmosphere which is 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Biogas also reduces the cost of complying with EPA combustion requirements for landfill gas and therefore makes better economic sense. Finally, producing biogas through anaerobic digestion reduces landfill waste and odors, produces nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer, and requires less land than aerobic composting.

For more information please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Renewable Natural Gas page.

xTL Fuels (Fischer-Tropsch):

Composition and Production: Synthetic liquid transportation fuels, otherwise known as xTL fuels, are produced through various conversion processes. These processes convert fuels from carbon-based feedstocks to yield various fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, ethanol, and methanol. In particular, the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) process produces liquid fuels from coal and natural gas.  The Fisher-Tropsch process produces liquid transportation fuels by converting syngas—a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen produced from biomass or fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal—into Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) diesel. The three steps that occur are as follows:

  • Syngas Formation
    Old Hydrocarbon + Oxygen → Syngas
  • Fischer-Tropsch Reaction
    Syngas → New Hydrocarbon + Water
  • Refining
    New Hydrocarbon → Fuels, Chemicals, etc.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: Much like drop-in biofuels, xTL fuels can replace conventional petroleum diesel for use in vehicles without modifications to the engine or fueling infrastructure.

Benefits: Benefits include more compatibility, increased energy security, improved vehicle performance, reduced exhaust emissions, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. xTL fuels are compatible with current diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles and fuel distribution infrastructure and would not require modifications to current infrastructure.  Using the United State’s vast coal reserves and natural gas to produce transportation fuels would reduce U.S. reliance on imported petroleum and increase energy security.  Then, liquid fuels from natural gas and F-T diesel can provide similar or better vehicle performance than conventional fuels. With F-T diesel, emission-control catalysts can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, little or no particulate emissions exist because it has low sulfur and aromatic content, and there are fewer hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions. Finally, fuels converted from stranded natural gas reserves, which are otherwise not economical to recover, require no gas flaring and produce fewer GHG emissions and fuels from biomass can produce fewer GHG emissions because carbon dioxide captured during feedstock growth offsets carbon dioxide emissions from burning fuel.

For more information please see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) xTL Fuels page.

Dimenthyl Ether (DME):

Composition and Production: Dimenthyl Ether (DME) is a non-toxic, colorless gas that can be easily liquefied to a biodegradable synthetic liquid fuel. It is produced from various feedstocks, such as natural gas, coal, biomass, or even carbon dioxide.

Use as a Transportation Fuel: DME can be used in conventional diesel engines and stored in similar vehicle storage tanks to those used for propane fuel.

Benefits: Benefits of DME are that it is easy to store and transport, cost effective, has high well-to-wheel efficiency, has excellent environmental properties, and you can make it from a variety of domestically produced fuels, increasing U.S. energy security.

For more information please see the SAE International’s presentation, DME from Natural Gas or Biomass: A Better Fuel Alternative.

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Get Ready

Virginia Plug-in Readiness
Virginia Get Ready Roundtable Efforts

The Virginia Get Ready Roundtable gathered for an introductory meeting  on May 18, 2010 and met throughout the summer to establish a cooperative plan for deployment of electric  vehicles in Virginia. This plan and related educational information for the state are now published on the Virginia Clean Cities and partner sites as well as a new educational resource:

Project Get Ready (PGR) is an initiative led by Rocky Mountain Institute to focus on identifying barriers and proposing solutions related to adoption and deployment of electric vehicles. This effort in Virginia spans many groups, with varying roles and experiences. A collaborative and organized effort to address these issues is led by the Governor’s Office, Virginia Clean Cities, and key stakeholders to benefit the entire state and region. The national PGR effort provides a forum to interact with other partner cities and technical advisers to address a range of issues.

Virginia Get Ready Goals:
Establish Virginia as a leader in the adoption of the electric vehicles in order to reduce vehicle emissions, increase energy independence, and generate positive economic development for the Commonwealth. By October 2010, present an initial Virginia “electrification plan” detailing:
· How to overcome potential barriers associated with the adoption of plug-in vehicles and charging infrastructure specifically related to codes, standards and processes;
· A communication strategy to educate appropriate partners, stakeholders and the general public;
· The potential incentives (monetary, nonmonetary, upfront and long-term) to encourage businesses and individuals to purchase plug-in vehicles;
· The issues and tasks necessary to the installation of charging infrastructure, from the technical to the managerial.

Virginia Utilities have installed and converted Prius vehicles, bucket trucks, and have agreed to purchase test Chevy Volt units when available. The Commonwealth has installed free access vehicle charging units at one rest area. Virginia entities are assessing charging capacity, investment needs, and roles in jumpstarting vehicle adoption and infrastructure deployment.

Virginia companies make batteries, motors, charging stations, and design and deploy electric vehicles and convert hybrid vehicles to plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles.  Northern Virginia is connected within the 70 mile radius of the DC ChargePoint America deployment and early adoption vehicle enthusiasts. Charlottesville, Virginia is involved in a robust smart grid and vehicle conversion deployment program and has a high number of early Prius adoptions. Richmond, Virginia has a large fleet presence and a local electric vehicle initiative. Hampton Roads includes large federal fleets in close proximity that are likely to benefit from electric improvements. Virginia fleets currently have 35 electric vehicles and there are numerous charging stations available, including modern units and EV1 deployment units from the late 1990’s.

State and local government entities, fleets, universities, utilities, civic organizations, vehicle manufacturers, and businesses are represented and stakeholder numbers are growing in the Virginia electrification effort.

Government representation includes the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, the state Department of Mines Minerals and Energy, the Department of General Services, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, the U.S. Department of Energy and Clean Cities program, Virginia Clean Cities, Fairfax, Virginia, Arlington, Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Henrico, Virginia, Chesterfield, Virginia, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia.

Utility representation includes Dominion Power and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative. Civic involvement includes Electric Vehicle Association of Washington DC, Richmond STIR, the Virginia Automobile Association, and Virginia Clean Cities. Business representation includes Nissan, Ford, Smith Electric Vehicles, the Advanced Vehicle Research Center, Richmond Segway, Evatran, Plugless Power, Aker Wade, Kollmorgen, Coulomb, and Encell.

Based on likely adoption predictions, infrastructure and vehicle efforts will be initially targeted for the specific regions of Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Richmond, and the Hampton Roads.

This plan was refined over the summer of 2010 and presented to public and private stakeholders in October 2010 at the Commonwealth of Virginia Energy Symposium. The Virginia effort was based on the four working groups of the neighboring efforts in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Virginia Get Ready Roundtable subcommittee groups included: 1) Standards and Readiness, 2) Education and Outreach, 3) Incentives, and 4) Sites and Installation.

The Regional Champion for the Virginia effort was Virginia Clean Cities.


Virginia EV Plan

Virginia Get Ready May 18 Presentation

Virginia Get Ready July 14 Presentation Info and Materials
VA Get Ready Nissan Presentation –  GM Presentation – Ford Presentation

DOE July 22 Plug-in Vehicle and Infrastructure Workshop and Materials

Virginia Get Ready Coordinator:
Alleyn Harned
Program Coordinator, Virginia Clean Cities
540-568-8896 desk
540-568-5181 fax
804-539-9425 cell

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Medium-Duty Hybrids

October 15, 2008 – Tidewater Area Fleet Managers Association (TAFMA) Meeting

Eaton Hybrid Power Systems Overview
Jon Hapke
Territory Sales Manager, Southeast Region
Roadranger Field Marketing
Office: 800-334-3116 x 331

New Clean Cities Tools and Resources
Chelsea Jenkins
Coordinator, Virginia Clean Cities

Mark McGee
Area Sales Manager, Penske Truck Leasing Co.
Mark offered a Penske Hybrid demo truck for short term demo periods of 1 to 5 days for TAFMA members interested that operate similar vehicles in their fleet. Download a Flyer with more information on the specifications of the unit as well as some of its operational features and benefits. The demo process includes an orientation, data collection, data review, and a demo summary meeting. Contact Mark for more information.

Other Resources

The Hybrid Truck Users Forum annual conference featured the worlds largest medium- and heavy-duty truck and bus convoy and ride-n-drive. Visit the HTUF website to take a look at the agenda, and a listing of many of the medium- and heavy-duty hybrids available today.

CALSTART’s latest Hybrid Dialog provides an overview of the conference, as well as what else is going on in the world of hybrids and plug-in hybrid trucks.

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Plug-in Hybrid Schematic

Plug-in Hybrid

What is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can be charged with electricity like pure electric vehicles and run under engine power like hybrid electric vehicles. The combination offers increased driving range with potentially large fuel and cost savings, emissions reductions, and other benefits.

Like hybrid electric vehicles, PHEVs are powered by two energy sources-an energy conversion unit and an energy storage device. The energy conversion unit can be powered by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, or other fuels. The batteries can be charged by plugging into a standard 110-volt electrical outlet-a capability conventional hybrid electric vehicles do not have-in addition to being charged by the energy conversion unit when needed.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have a larger battery pack than conventional hybrid electric vehicles. During typical daily driving, most of a PHEV’s power comes from the stored electricity. For example, a PHEV driver might drive to and from work on all-electric power, plug in the vehicle to charge it at night, and be ready for another all-electric commute in the morning. However, the engine can be used when longer trips are required, and the PHEV does not need to be plugged in to operate.

Where Can I Get More Information?

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center has a good overview of plug-in hybrids as well as the vehicle-to-grid concept which will allow a two-way connection between the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and the local utility grid. The AFDC has also compiled a list of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle related links for your information.

The information above was obtained from the Alternative Fuels Data Center, which is a great technical resource on all alternative fuels and vehicles. Source link:

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Virginia Electric Vehicles

Commercially produced electric vehicles are a reality in Virginia today and Virginia is well positioned physically and economically to be a leader in electric vehicles.  Embracing electric vehicle use in Virginia will assist statewide efforts to reduce vehicle emissions, increase energy independence, and generate positive economic development for the Commonwealth. Below is a link to this initial Virginia electrification plan.

Get Ready Plan


Recommendations and Public Comment

Because the Virginia Get Ready Electric Vehicle Plan includes several recommendations, we are providing six weeks for public comment.  Please submit comments by November 24 to this form or by email to


Best.Drive.EVer – Convenience

Best.Drive.EVer – Performance


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Ethanol PumpEthanol Quick Facts

  • Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from various plant materials collectively known as “biomass.” More than 95% of U.S. gasoline contains ethanol in a low-level blend to oxygenate the fuel and reduce air pollution.
  • It is a colorless liquid distilled from agricultural crops – usually corn.
  • Ethanol can be produced not only from corn, barley, and wheat, but also from cellulose feedstocks, such as corn stalks, rice straw, sugar cane bagasse, pulpwood, switchgrass, and municipal solid waste.
  • Ethanol Myths and Facts
  • RFA Ethanol Facts
  • WATCH: 40 Facts About Ethanol

Frequently Asked Ethanol Questions and Answers:

Where can I find Ethanol Stations?

What are the different blends of Ethanol?

What are the Benefits of Using Ethanol?

What vehicles run on ethanol and how do they perform?

Where can I learn more about state and federal laws and incentives?

Ethanol Stations

Use the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Station Locator to find public ethanol stations in Virginia.
Locations are subject to change, so we recommend calling the stations to verify location, hours of operation, and access. 

Ethanol Blends

  • E10 – a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. More than 70% of American gas stations now sell E10, but as newer vehicles are manufactured, the industry will shift to raise the standard by 5% for more E15 use.
  • E15 – a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. This is a newer higher octane fuel. The EPA has approved E15 use in vehicles year 2001 and newer.
  • E20, E30, E40 (Mid-Level Blends) – Fuels that are blended between 10% and 85% ethanol. All flex- fuel vehicles on the road are manufactured to operate on gasoline  and up to 85% ethanol so mid-level blends can be dispensed at stations that have blender pump infrastructure.
  • E85 – a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. This is the most common and generally the highest ethanol fuel mixture sold by retailers in the United States. E85 is the standard fuel for Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs).
  • E100 – pure ethanol fuel.

The Benefits of Using Ethanol

  • Using E85 reduces petroleum consumption: use of E85 will reduce overall use of petroleum and replace it with renewable-based fuel produced in the U.S.
  • E85 is better for the environment: E85 offers environmental benefits such as reducing carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter emissions when compared to gas.
  • Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) are available and affordable: FFVs specifically designed to run on E85 are becoming more common each model year, and FFVs are typically available as standard equipment with little or no incremental cost.
  • FFVs have flexible fueling options: FFVs may operate on gasoline or E85, and a driver may simply fuel with either fuel as the situation dictates.
  • E85 is easy to use and handle: E85 fueling equipment is only slightly different and of similar cost, and is similar to petroleum fuel storage and dispensing.

What Vehicles Can Use Ethanol and How Does it Perform?

Flexible-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs)

All gasoline vehicles are capable of operating on gasoline and ethanol blends with up to 10% ethanol. In fact, some states require the seasonal or year-round use of up to 10% ethanol as an oxygenate additive to gasoline to mitigate ozone formation.  These low percentage oxygenate blends are not classified as alternative fuels.

We speak of ethanol vehicles as those specifically manufactured to be capable of running on up to 85% denatured ethanol, 15% gasoline (E85), or any mixture of the two up to the 85% ethanol limit. E85 may be seasonally adjusted in colder climates such that the real proportion of E85 is less than 85% ethanol. Vehicles manufactured for E85 use are commonly called flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs). They are available in a variety of makes and models. Use the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Light-Duty Vehicle Search to browse available models.

Special Components of a Flex Fuel Vehicle Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center

Special Components of a Flex Fuel Vehicle
Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center


From a consumer perspective, there is no noticeable difference in vehicle performance when E10 is used. Because ethanol has lower energy content than gasoline, E85 use reduces fuel economy. The magnitude of the reduction depends on the vehicle, driving habits and conditions, but 15% is an often-cited average.

Ethanol Production in Virginia

Most ethanol is produced in the grain-growing states of mid-western U.S., but Vireol Ltd is opening an ethanol plant in Hopewell, VA in Spring 2014 that will have a capacity of 62 million gallons of bioethanol a year.  The plant will produce ethanol from corn, barley, and other small grains. The company will invest $26.2 million to begin production and will create 70 new jobs. Stay tuned for more information on how the increased production will effect ethanol as a transportation fuel in the Commonwealth!


State and Federal Laws and Incentives for Ethanol

Virginia Laws and Incentives


  • Biofuels Production Grants (Reference House Bill 1025, 2014, and Virginia Code 45.1-393 and 45.1-394)
  • Agriculture and Forestry Biofuel Production Grants (Reference Virginia Code 3.2-304)
  • Alternative Fuels Grants and Loans (Reference Virginia Code 33.1-223.4 and 33.1-223.7)
  • Alternative Fuel Job Creation Tax Credit (Reference Virginia Code 58.1-439.1)
  • Green Jobs Tax Credit (Reference Virginia Code 58.1-439.12:05)
  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Fueling Infrastructure Loans (Reference Virginia Code 22.1-146)
  • Ethanol Production Equipment Tax Exemption (Reference Virginia Code 58.1-3505)
  • Biofuel Feedstock Registration Exemption (Reference Virginia Code 3.2-5508 through 3.2-5516)
  • Alternative Fuel Tax Exemption (Reference Virginia Code 58.1-2250)


For full summaries of all the laws and incentives for Ethanol in the Commonwealth of Virginia, please visit AFDC’s Virginia Laws and Incentives for Ethanol page.

Federal Laws and Regulations

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program began as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the program and it became effective on September 1, 2007. The Program’s goal is to increase the volume of renewable fuel that is blended in transportation fuels and to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel each year by 2022. Renewable fuel categories include conventional biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, and other advanced biofuels.  Oil refiners, blenders, and gasoline and diesel importers are regulated by RFS.  To track compliance and facilitate the program, producers and importers must generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) by selling the required biofuel volumes or must purchase RINs from parties that exceed their requirements.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) set yearly RFS volume requirements for each renewable fuel category. EPA updates volume requirements each year based on fuel availability. Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) set yearly RFS volume requirements for each renewable fuel category. EPA updates volume requirements each year based on fuel availability. Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center

For a full review of Federal Incentives and Regulations related to Ethanol, please visit AFDC’s Laws and Incentives page.

Technical Information on E85

Current Clean Cities Ethanol Projects

Mid-Atlantic Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership
VCC has partnered with private sector infrastructure companies and the USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Program to advance ethanol use in the Mid-Atlantic region and to install 53 additional ethanol stations. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) will administer the program with the assistance of Virginia Clean Cities (VCC). Partners in the program include two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designated Clean Cities Coalitions with assistance from a third that covers the two states and the District of Columbia, as well as agricultural and energy offices of each state. State grain associations and agricultural partners are engaged as well as the private sector infrastructure partners to complete station build.

Past Clean Cities Ethanol Projects

VA-MD-DC E85 Infrastructure Project
Virginia Clean Cities and Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy worked with partners to increase public E85 infrastructure in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia through the Department of Energy’s award for alternative fuel infrastructure. Other partners included Maryland’s Energy Administration and the Virginia Regional Environmental Management System. The list of public and restricted access E85 stations in the VA-MD-DC region that was developed as a result of the project can be found here.

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What is Propane?

According to the Gas Processors Association HD5 specification for LPG as a transportation fuel, LPG must consist of 90% propane, no more than 5% propylene, and 5% other which is primarily butane and butylene. It is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. The components of LPG are gases at normal temperatures and pressures.

How is Propane Made?

Propane is a by-product from two sources: natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Most of the LPG used in the United States is produced domestically. When natural gas is produced, it contains methane and other light hydrocarbons that are separated in a gas processing plant. Because propane boils at -44°F and ethane boils at -127°F, it is separated from methane by combining increasing pressure and decreasing temperature.

The natural gas liquid components recovered during processing include ethane, propane, and butane, as well as heavier hydrocarbons.

Propane and butane, along with other gases, are also produced during crude refining as by-products of the processes that rearrange or break down molecular structure to obtain more desirable petroleum compounds.

What are the Benefits of Using Propane?

Propane vehicles can produce fewer ozone-forming emissions than vehicles powered by reformulated gasoline. In addition, tests on light-duty, bi-fuel vehicles have demonstrated a 98% reduction in the emissions of toxics, including benzene, 1,3 butadiene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, when the vehicles were running on propane rather than gasoline.

The cost of a gasoline-gallon equivalent of propane is generally less than that of gasoline, so driving a propane vehicle can save money. In addition, propane is the most accessible of all alternative fuels. In the United States approximately 3,000 publicly accessible facilities offer propane.

Approximately 85% of all propane used in this country comes from domestic sources, so driving a propane vehicle can help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and strengthen national energy security.

The information above was obtained from the Alternative Fuels Data Center, which is a great technical resource on all alternative fuels and vehicles. Source link:

Current Virginia Clean Cities Propane Projects

Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program
The goal of SPADP is to implement 17 propane stations, convert over 1,100 vehicles to propane, conduct propane road shows in 9 southeastern states, deploy a national marketing and outreach campaign. Project will eliminate over 16,000 tons of pollutants (criteria and GHG) over the 4 years, displace 15,772,100 gallons of gasoline, and create/retain 600 jobs. More information about the program can be found here.

Past Virginia Clean Cities Propane Projects

Gloucester County Propane School Bus Project

On October 26, 2009, Gloucester County Public Schools was presented a check from MARAMA and the keys to their 5 new propane school buses. Elected representatives spoke about the commitment by Gloucester County to environmental sustainability and energy security at Page Middle School.

Funding for the propane school bus pilot is being provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 via the EPA National Clean Diesel Program and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.



March 4, 2014 Autogas Working Group Call – First Responders
Spancil Hill – Tony Dale
NAFTC – Micheal Smyth

Janaury 7, 2013 Autogas Working Group Call
Roush CleanTech- Chelsea Jenkins
Sonny Merryman- Natalie Van Dyke

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Natural Gas


Natural Gas Quick Facts

  • Natural gas is an odorless, nontoxic gas comprised of a mixture of hydrocarbons, primarily methane (CH4). This alternative fuel supplies approximately a quarter of the energy used in the United States.
  • About one third of natural gas consumed in the United States is for residential and commercial use, while only one-tenth of 1% of natural gas is used for transportation fuel.
  • Natural gas can be produced from gas wells or as a result of crude oil production. Because of the gaseous nature of natural gas, it must be stored on-board a vehicle in either a compressed gaseous state (CNG) or a in a liquefied state (LNG).
  • Natural gas is considered to be the cleanest burning fossil fuel due to the reduced production of greenhouse gases and smog-producing pollutants.
  • WATCH: Natural Gas 101
  • To learn more about how natural gas can be used in fleet vehicles,  click here

Natural Gas Fuels

There are two different forms of natural gas that can be used as a fuel for vehicles. These two fuel types are:

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

  • LNG fuel systems are best suited for medium and heavy duty applications. This fuel is produced by super-cooling purified natural gas to -260°F in order to turn it into a liquid. This liquid must be maintained at a very cold temperature so it is stored in double-walled, vacuum-insulated pressure vessels. LNG vehicles are more suited for long range travel than CNG vehicles.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

  • CNG is typically used in light, medium and heavy duty applications. These vehicles have about the same fuel economy as a traditional gasoline vehicle but the range for most dedicated CNG vehicles is less than most gasoline or diesel vehicles. CNG is stored in cylinders with a pressure of 3,000 to 3,600 pounds per square inch.

Natural Gas Stations

Use the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Station Locator to find public natural gas stations in Virginia.

Locations are subject to change, so we recommend calling the stations to verify location, hours of operation, and access.

Natural gas vehicles can easily be fueled at public stations or on-site refueling can be built. Individual home compressors use a slow-fill system for overnight refueling. A small compressor would usually be located in a home’s garage area and would be connected directly to the natural gas supply in the house. In heavy-duty applications, the cost of a high capacity fast-fill private or public station ranges from $200,000 to as much as $3 million.

The future holds great potential for natural gas because it can potentially be used in fuel cell vehicles to make hydrogen. Researchers have found that fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen produced from natural gas could present an attractive solution for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

CNG Fast-fill Stations


Fast fill stations are used ideally for retail situations where light-duty vehicles can fill up quickly at random intervals. The required infrastructure for this station only takes up as much space as a parking space. Fuel for this station is provided by a local utility line at a low pressure and the compressor on site creates a high pressure gas that can be used in these vehicles. Drivers filling up at a fast fill station experience similar fill times to gasoline fueling stations—less than 5 minutes for a 20 gallon equivalent tank. Drivers use a dispenser to transfer CNG into the tank. The dispenser uses sensors to calculate pressure and measure the number of GGEs delivered to the tank, taking temperature into account.

CNG Time-fill Stations


Time fill stations are used mainly for fleets and work well for vehicles with larger tanks that refuel at a central location every night. Unlike fast-fill stations, vehicles at time-fill stations are generally filled directly from the compressor, not from fuel stored in tanks. The size of the compressor needed depends on the size of the fleet. Although there is a small buffer storage tank, its purpose is not to fill vehicles, but to keep the compressor from turning off and on unnecessarily—wasting electricity and causing undue wear and tear on the compressor. The storage tanks are sometimes used to “top off” vehicle tanks during the day. Fuel times depend on the number of vehicles, compressor size and the amount of buffer storage. This process can take minutes to hours depending on these factors and the need of the consumers.

Use this interactive animation to learn more about how the outside temperature and fill speeds affect the final fill volume in compressed natural gas vehicle tanks. Learn more about filling CNG vehicle tanks.

The Benefits of Using Natural Gas

    • The use of natural gas reduces petroleum consumption: Compressed natural gas vehicles use 90% less petroleum as compared to gasoline engines.
    • Natural gas is better for the environment: Natural gas vehicles typically emit 6-11% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than comparable gasoline and diesel vehicles throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. Significant reductions in carbon monoxide and evaporative volatile organic compound emissions are seen in comparison to the emissions of a traditional gasoline vehicle.
    • Natural gas is domestically produced: Most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced internally. This allows for increased energy security as well as the creation of jobs
    • Natural gas is less expensive than traditional gasoline. In order to see the difference in fuel costs, try using the cost calculator below.

What Vehicles Can Use Natural Gas and How Do They Perform?

There are three types of natural gas vehicles:

  • Dedicated: These vehicles run only on natural gas.
  • Bi-Fuel: These vehicles run on either natural gas or gasoline through the use of two separate fueling systems.
  • Dual-Fuel: These vehicles have fuel systems that run on natural gas but use diesel fuel for ignition assistance. These vehicles are typically only available for heavy duty application.

One of the major benefits of using natural gas vehicles is that users experience no differences in horsepower, acceleration, or cruise speed in comparison to a traditional gasoline powered vehicle.


The image shows how natural gas vehicles that use CNG work. First, CNG enters the car through the natural gas fill valve (A). The gas entered high-pressure cylinders (B) and as natural gas is needed to power the vehicle, it travels through the master manual shut-off valve (C). This valve connects to the high-pressure fuel line (D) and enters the engine compartment. The pressure of the gas is then decreased as it enters the regulator (E) and passes through the solenoid valve (F). The solenoid valve shuts off when the engine is no longer running. Finally, the gas flows through the carburetor or fuel-injection system (G) and enters combustion chambers where it can be burned to produce power, like regular gasoline.


State and Federal Laws and Incentives

To learn more about available incentives and laws relating to the use of natural gas vehicles, click here.

Clean Cities Natural Gas Working Group

Virginia Clean Cities conducts bi-monthly working group webinar calls with interested fleets, fuel providers, and other groups from around Virginia to discuss natural gas. If you are interested in joining the CNG Working Group, please contact us! Below is the presentation from the last working group call:

Hank Brown, TFC Recycling (PowerPoint by Stephe Yborra, NGVAmerica)

Past Presentations

Jim Norris, Clean Energy

Steve Bernstein, Jones and Frank

Alleyn Harned, Virginia Clean Cities

Peter Grace, Clean Energy

Larry Bowling, MAERSK Line, Limited

Bill Boyce, Cummins Westport

Sunny Dewakar, NGV Motori

Natural Gas Toolkit

Virginia Clean Cities worked with the East Tennessee Clean Cities Coalition to create the Natural Gas Toolkit This toolkit allows you to find and utilize two primary numbers, the fuel price difference and your vehicle cost difference, to calculate a simple payback period. Perhaps more importantly, it helps you get basic pieces of information in one place to prepare for potential funding opportunities in the future. What you need to know is that this is just a starting point for looking at natural gas for your fleet. Clean Cities coalitions, NGVAmerica, and other resources are out there to help you find the other numbers you need, so use the resources page to find those as you need them.

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Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

What is a Hydrogen Fuel Cell?

Hydrogen fuel cells were invented in 1839 and have enjoyed a long life of powering scientific and government equipment over the past century.  Hydrogen fuel cells powered the Gemini and Apollo space missions and provided power to the Space Shuttle and many smaller vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell technology has been tested and numerous vehicle manufacturers are bringing commercial fuel cell electric vehicles to market in 2012.  Laboratories throughout the country, including Virginia institutions, continue to work to perfect fuel cells for low cost commercial use through improvements in technology.

Like batteries, fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity. The main difference between the two technologies is that fuel cells use external chemical fuel. For vehicles, hydrogen is commonly stored in tanks that are 20x stronger than regular gas tanks. The main type of fuel cell use catalysts to convert hydrogen to protons and electrons.  The electrons travel through a circuit containing an electric load (like an electric motor) and power that circuit before catching up protons, which flow through a membrane in the fuel cell.  When the protons and electrons recombine, the byproduct is water.

Hydrogen (H2) is the simplest and lightest fuel, and is in a gaseous state at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature. Hydrogen may contain low levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, depending on the source.  Hydrogen is being explored for use in combustion engines and fuel cell electric vehicles. On a volumetric basis, the energy density of hydrogen is very low under ambient conditions. This presents greater transportation and storage hurdles than for liquid fuels. Storage systems being developed include compressed hydrogen, liquid hydrogen, and physical or chemical bonding between hydrogen and a storage material (for example, metal hydrides).

The ability to create hydrogen from a variety of resources and its clean-burning properties make it a desirable alternative fuel.  Although there is no significant transportation distribution system currently for hydrogen transportation use, we can transport and deliver hydrogen for early market penetration using the established hydrogen infrastructure; for significant market penetration, the infrastructure will need further development.

Hydrogen fuel cells can be built to practically any size, which means that they can power anything from a spacecraft to a truck to a cell phone.

How is Hydrogen for Transportation Fuel Made?

Hydrogen can be produced using diverse, domestic resources including fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal (with carbon sequestration); nuclear; and biomass and other renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro-electric power.  One common way to produce hydrogen is through electrolysis, which separates water into hydrogen and oxygen.  Researchers are working to develop a wide range of technologies to produce hydrogen economically and in environmentally friendly ways.

What are the Benefits of Using Hydrogen as a Transportation Energy Source?

Expanded use of hydrogen as an energy source in this country could help address concerns about energy security, global climate change, and air quality. Fuel cells are an important enabling technology for the hydrogen future and have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our nation, offering cleaner, more efficient alternatives to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels. Hydrogen’s main benefits are: stronger national security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, and increased energy efficiency.

What is the Transportation Market for Hydrogen?

The hydrogen market has great potential for transportation applications. At the end of 2008, Hundreds of hydrogen-powered light duty vehicles were on U.S. roads and drove a total of 1,100,000 miles that year.  At this time, government and industry are working together to overcome technical and cost barriers.  Numerous vehicle manufacturers are advancing vehicles for commercial sale to the general public, including Daimler, Ford, GM/Opel, Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Renault, Nissan, and Toyota.

There are numerous hydrogen fueling stations, both for private and public use. To view all hydrogen stations across the country, go to the AFDC’s Alternative Fuels Station Locator.  Virginia currently has one hydrogen refueling station at Fort Belvoir, and one station in planning phase south on 95.

Virginia Clean Cities sees compressed natural gas as a natural transition to hydrogen because infrastructure, refueling, storage, etc. are similar. This is one of the reasons Virginia Clean Cities promotes fleet adoption and use of CNG. Additionally, advances in electric drive systems benefit fuel cell, hybrid electric, and electric vehicles.

Where Can I Get More Information About Hydrogen?

Learn about hydrogen research and development by visiting the following sites:

Current Clean Cities Hydrogen Projects

Virginia Hydrogen Education Activities

Virginia Clean Cities is engaged in a project to increase understanding of hydrogen and fuel cells, including information about early market applications, and to provide specific examples of actions that can benefit the community.  More information is available at our seminar page.

Virginia Hydrogen Economy Roundtable

Virginia Clean Cities coordinates the Virginia Hydrogen Economy Roundtable, representing participants from over thirty organizations, whose purpose is to determine the potential role for hydrogen systems in Virginia’s energy future. The Roundtable completed work on “Virginia’s Vision and Strategy for the Hydrogen Economy” and are now working on implementing the recommendations, such as hydrogen teacher training workshops. Download the strategy document here.

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Idle Reduction and Efficiency

What is Idle Reduction?

Idling vehicles can use up several billion gallons of fuel and emit large quantities of air pollution and greenhouse gases each year. The Transportation Research Board estimates that medium-duty trucks use about 2.5 billion gallons of fuel to idle each year, or 6.7% of the total fuel they consume. The TRB estimates that approximately 650,000 long-haul heavy-duty trucks idle overnight at some point for required rest stops, using more than 685 million gallons of fuel per year in the process. This costs fleets over $2 billion on fuel annually.

The term idle reduction can be used to describe the technologies and practices that reduce the amount of time vehicles idle their engines. Idle reduction technologies and practices are an important way to cut petroleum consumption and emissions. Reducing idle time saves fuel, reduces engine wear, and reduces emissions and noise. It also saves money that would normally be spent on fuel or maintenance work due to engine wear and tear.

A variety of technologies are employed to reduce fuel use. Onboard equipment such as automatic engine stop-start controls and auxiliary power units can be used wherever the vehicle might be. Truck stop electrification enables trucks to hook up to stations that provide power and other amenities. Additional strategies are available for light- and medium-duty vehicles and school buses. The presentations found below from Idle Reduction experts at Argonne National Lab and a representative of one of the leading idle reduction manufacturers can help provide basic information about idling and ways in which you can reduce it within your fleet operations.

Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center. Link:

Virginia Clean Cities Idle Reduction Project

The Middle Peninsula Clean School Bus Project has an idle reduction component. Virginia Clean Cities put forward $50,000 to fund an Idle Reduction pilot program in Virginia Beach and Gloucester County, VA school systems. The installation of 24 fuel operated heaters in 24 school buses to help eliminate idling at various schools in Virginia Beach and Gloucester took place by the Fall of 2010.

Fuel Operated Heaters replace the need to idle diesel engines by using 1/16th of the amount of fuel it takes to idle, by heating the engines coolant fluid, which then heat the engines and passenger compartments inside the bus. This project included an educational program on anti-idling lead by our Outreach Coordinator, Ryan Cornett. Project Associate Jamison Walker worked with Roger Kelly and Robert Clinebell, Gloucester County and Virginia Beach school systems’ transportation directors, respectively, on data acquisition and analysis of fuel and cost savings produced by the heaters. A power point detailing the results of the program can be found at the following link: VCC Anti-Idling. The report detailing the results of the program can be found at the following link: VCC Anti-Idling Report.

Data collection and analysis will continue on the project in order to provide a database for other school systems to utilize in making similar transitions in their own fleets.

Virginia Incentives and Laws for Idle Reduction

The list below contains summaries of all Virginia incentives and laws related to Idle Reduction.

State Incentives
Idle Reduction Weight Exemption
Any motor vehicle equipped with an auxiliary power unit or other idle reduction technology may exceed the gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits by up to 400 pounds to compensate for the added weight of the idle reduction technology. (Reference Virginia Code 46.2-1129.1)

Laws and Regulations
Idle Reduction Requirement
Motor vehicles licensed for commercial or public service may not idle for more than three minutes in commercial or residential urban areas, unless the engine is providing auxiliary power for purposes other than heating or air conditioning. Tour buses and diesel vehicles are not permitted to idle for more than 10 minutes. (Reference Virginia Administrative Code 9-5-40-5670(C))

Idle Reduction Resources

Below are presentations by our Idle Reduction experts at Argonne National Lab and a representative of one of the leading idle reduction manufacturers that supplied our program’s heaters:

Idle Reduction, Related Legislation, and Funding Opportunities at the National and State Level
Terry M. Levinson
Argonne National Laboratory

Idling Reduction Overview
Terry M. Levinson
Argonne National Laboratory

How Do Idling Reduction Technologies Compare?
Dr. Linda Gaines
Argonne National Laboratory

Paul Baczewski
Webasto Products North America, Inc.

Watch the new YouTube video created by Webasto and

Visit the DOE Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center for more information on idle reduction.

The Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative is a great resource for reducing emissions from diesel engines.

The National Idling Reduction Network brings together trucking and transit companies, railroads, equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal government agencies (including regulators), and national research laboratories to identify consistent, workable solutions to heavy vehicle idling for the entire United States. Download past newsletters or email us if you would like to be added to their mailing list.

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