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DC Public Works Expands Biodiesel Truck Fleet with Optimus Technologies’ Advanced Fuel Systems


The Washington DC Department of Public Works (DPW) increased its number of fleet vehicles running on renewable pure biodiesel (B100). The Department achieved this by installing Optimus Technologies’ Vector System onto 17 new refuse trucks. The innovative fuel system allows the DPW to realize its sustainable energy goals immediately; enabling the trucks to operate on B100 reduces up to 86% of the vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The DPW began an evaluation of the technology in 2018 when it installed the Optimus system installed on six trucks. Pure biodiesel is a cleaner fuel solution produced from waste fats and oils. The Vector System allows these medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles to run on this pure biodiesel. The Department holds an existing order of 17 refuse trucks. Yet the technology’s success prompted the order’s amendment to include the installation of the Optimus biodiesel system prior to delivery.

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Additionally, in conjunction the new B100 vehicles, DPW installed a 12,500-gallon refueling station on-site to support the project expansion. The station features Optimus’ SMARTFuel RFID technology. This technology limits refueling to vehicles equipped to use B100. North America’s largest producer of biodiesel, Renewable Energy Group (REG), supplied the biodiesel fuel for DPW’s trucks.

“As the demand for emissions reduction strategies continues to grow across fleets and municipalities, we are well-positioned to provide B100 and biofuel blending options to our customers,” says Jon Scharingson, executive director of sales and marketing for REG. “As REG expands our business downstream, B100 is a cleaner fuel solution we can offer today, and the DC Department of Public Works is just one example of how we are doing that.”


The DPW’s switch to biofuels is a part of Washington DC’s efforts to achieve 50% emission reductions by 2032. The District’s ultimate goal is an 80% reduction by 2050. DPW diesel refuse trucks present the biggest barrier to these goals; they cause the highest amount of emissions per vehicle. Addressing this, the Department looked to the Vector System to expand biodiesel use without impacting vehicle performance, operation, or maintenance.

B100, however, cannot be used as fuel without some engine modifications, which is where Optimus Technologies’ expertise lies. “DPW is an avid user of lower blends of biodiesel, but to achieve their sustainability commitments, they are in need of something more,” says Colin Huwyler, CEO of Optimus Technologies. “Fleets love that they can utilize their existing vehicle specifications and just include the Optimus fuel system to achieve significant environmental and performance benefits.”

While the Department explored electric vehicles (EVs), DPW’s director Chris Geldart acknowledged that EV technology isn’t available for heavy-duty applications. The Department found that the most effective solution was to operate on B100 for its carbon reduction benefits. The Optimus system’s success encouraged Director Geldart’s announcement that all the Department’s future refuse trucks will operate on B100.

“We were looking for a solution to maximize emissions reductions while minimizing any effect on operations,” Geldart says. “In 2019, DC’s fleet of trucks consumed over 170,000 gallons of biodiesel, resulting in a carbon reduction of more than 1,598 tons. The Department is driving these numbers higher through the implementation of the Optimus Vector System in more city refuse vehicles and expanding to other heavy-duty applications such as snow removal trucks.”


Heavy-duty vehicles present one of the biggest challenges to sustainability. Despite this, 100% biodiesel allows DPW to exceed its 2050 carbon reduction target with the fleet today. Additionally, the DPW intends to have close to 100 trucks upgraded with Optimus Technologies’ biodiesel fuel systems within the next year.

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