This is great news considering our huge dependence on oil. US Biofuel company Solazyme has collaborated with Propel Fuels to sell algae-based diesel biofuel at retail pumps in San Francisco.
Solazyme says this is the first time in United States history that retail consumers will have the ability to fill their tanks on algae-based fuel. If the one-month pilot program proves to be successful, it may pave the way for a clean new way for fleets to fuel their vehicles.
The new algae-based biodiesel is compatible with existing diesel engines and meets international fuel quality standards. It actually exceeds the standard for cold weather performance. It has been tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which has shown that a 20% blend of SoladieselBD with conventional diesel results in considerably cleaner emissions, with less particulates and carbon monoxide.
Propel Fuel is another interesting concept, with a network of gas stations built to green specifications. It has also developed CleanDrive, a software device that allows drivers to track carbon reduction progress. This is designed to be particularly beneficial to companies that fuel their fleets at Propel, allowing them to use the information as part of their green branding with numbers that prove their efforts.
Since there are so many different types of biofuel recipes, products like this mean future gas stations could very well offer a variety of gasoline products that appeal to different customers. Biofuels derived from algae, post-consumer waste, and agricultural waste are just a few options that may be available in the future. This also appeals to the “buy local” customer base, with processors marketing their products according to where the ingredients were purchased or produced.
This could be a really interesting retail concept for gas stations, and it will be interesting to see how well this algae product sells in San Francisco. Even if it doesn’t allow prices to go down right away, the freedom of cleaner fuel might ease some of the pain at the pump.