Kansas Salt Mine Marks Long-Time Success with High Blend of Biodiesel
The Hutchinson Salt Company recognized the indoor air quality benefits of 100% biodiesel (B100) back in 2003 when the salt mine first tested the fuel in an underground loader. Today, 17 years later Hutchinson Salt Company continues to rely on B100 to improve air quality—a decision that’s also good for miners.
Located in Hutchinson, Kan., the Hutchinson Salt Company operates a salt mine that produces highway salt for use in inclement weather and salt for animal feed.
“Air quality is critical for our miners who work with diesel equipment underground,” said General Manager Jim Barta. “We want to do everything we can to protect our miners and biodiesel does just that by reducing harmful emissions and particulates. Our underground miners report that with biodiesel, particulates do not get in their nostrils and the air is noticeably cleaner.”
In addition to improved air quality, Barta highlights several other benefits of using biodiesel. “Our diesel mechanic, with 40-plus years of experience working on regular diesel engines, tore down one of our B100-fueled engines shortly after he started at the mine. He couldn’t believe how clean it was compared to regular diesel engines,” Barta notes. “Biodiesel also adds lubricity, so the injectors work more efficiently. Long-time equipment operators report no loss of power or torque, and ultimately engines run better.”
Hutchinson Salt Company began using biodiesel in 2003 and stopped for a short time in 2012-2015 during staff transitions. Last year, the company used 48,000 gallons of soy biodiesel in underground equipment including loaders, diesel pickups, tractors, bobcats, a powder truck for explosives, and portable welders.