Archived Outdoors

N.C. side of Smokies goes biodiesel

About two dozen diesel vehicles used by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side of the park will soon be fueling up with B-50 biodiesel.


The switch is being made possible by a Clean Fuel Advanced Technology grant secured by Friends of the Smokies, as well as additional matching funds from the Friends of the Smokies license plate program.

Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources such as soybeans. It can be used in most diesel engines as is — requiring little or no modifications to the engine or gas tank to fill ‘er up with biodiesel. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. In this particular case, the park will be using B-50, which is a half-and-half blend of bio-fuel and regular diesel.

To support the switch to biodiesel, the park will install a 4,000-gallon tank at their Oconaluftee Maintenance Yard in Swain County. A smaller, 1,000-gallon tank will be installed in Cataloochee Valley in Haywood County. Both tanks will be dedicated to B-50 biodiesel fuel, and they will serve nearly two dozen diesel vehicles that consume 12,000 gallons of fuel each year.

“This biodiesel refueling project will help us achieve our long-term goal of stabilizing or improving air quality in the park,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We also see it as a great opportunity to lead by example as we host local school groups and millions of visitors from all across the country and world.”

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To finance the project, Friends of the Smokies secured a grant of more than $33,000 from the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology Project. The clean fuel technology project is a three-year, $2 million initiative to reduce emissions in counties that have violated national air quality standards. Grants were given out across the state.

Friends of the Smokies will also provide matching funds of more than $8,000 through their specialty license plate program. The Smokies license plate has raised more than $946,000 since its launch in 1999 to support conservation, education, and other projects on the North Carolina side of the park. Of the extra $30 annual fee for the specialty tag, $20 goes to Friends of the Smokies. The Smokies tag can be ordered anytime at any local North Carolina license plate agency office. For more information, go online to or call Friends of the Smokies at 828.452.0720.

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