Category Archives: Biodiesel

Beloved VW Jetta TDI SportWagen, no more.

As of 2015, Volkswagen’s popular and much-loved wagon sedan model, the Jetta TDI  SportWagen will be replaced—or, more accurately, filed under a new genus as the Golf  TDI SportWagen.

Phew. Hope I didn’t have you worried there.

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image: auto blog green

Still in the concept phase, the all-wheel-drive TDI Clean Diesel Golf SportWagen is scheduled to debut in the US at the New York Auto Show later this month:

Volkswagen of America, Inc. will debut a concept version of the latest SportWagen model that features a 4MOTION® all-wheel drive system and the new EA288 TD®I Clean Diesel engine at the New York Auto Show. The concept previews the all-new Golf SportWagen that goes on sale in early 2015. Based on the new MQB (modular transverse matrix) architecture, the Golf SportWagen will continue the trend introduced by the seventh generation Golf whereby it is lighter, bigger, roomier, more fuel efficient and more powerful than the outgoing SportWagen model.

Just the mention of an all-wheel-drive diesel wagon has me daydreaming of rallying up mountain passes, blasting by chain control, all on one tank of biodiesel. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the SportWagen models bound for the US will feature the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system. More information to come after the New York Auto Show. Stay tuned.

Read more about the Golf SportWagen from Auto Blog Green.
Find more diesel vehicle options.

Biodiesel-powered breweries bring together two of our favorite things

That would be beer and biodiesel.

As more breweries invest in sustainable practices and green initiatives, biodiesel is a preferred fuel for use in delivery trucks, generators, tractors, and other brewery vehicles. A recent Biodiesel Magazine article provided an informative list of several breweries utilizing biodiesel in one capacity or another—including a couple California breweries. And I’ve tacked on a couple more sustainable breweries to the list.

Sierra Nevada

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Based out of Chico, California, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has been using biodiesel blends for the past six years. According to the company website, Sierra Nevada acknowledges that “getting beer from our brewery onto store shelves is no small feat. We recognize the toll it takes on the environment and we’re doing what we can to minimize our impact.” Biodiesel fuel is used to power both long-haul and local delivery trucks as well as the tractors working the eight acres of hops and gardens in Chico.

Ryan Arnold, Sierra Nevada communications manager, told Biodiesel Magazine, “At the brewery we’re always striving to essentially close the loop, and biodiesel helps us turn what could be a waste product into something useful.The trucks perform well. With up to B20, we don’t see much change in mileage.”

Stone Brewing Co.

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The 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co.  strives to use stainable methods in all aspects of its business. According to Biodiesel Magazine, “The company has a fleet of 40 box trucks, one hybrid truck, two Sprinter vans, and four single axel daycabs that all use B20.” In addition to using renewable biodiesel fuel, Stone also produces energy from rooftop solar panels, repurposes “spent grain” in their gardens, composts some kitchen waste, and offers electric car charging.

New Belgium Brewing Company

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This Colorado brewery has an extensive sustainability program that focuses broadly on reducing New Belgium’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all aspects of the operation. And this includes using low-carbon “biodiesel made from recycled restaurant grease to fuel trucks and generators for its famous Tour de Fat, a philanthropic “bicycle, beer and bemusement” event that will travel to 10 cities this year.”

Red Lodge Ales

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According to Biodiesel Magazine, this Montana brewery “has used biodiesel for almost 10 years in its small fleet of delivery vehicles. The company collects waste grease from its restaurant customers and trades it for finished fuel from a local supplier. Other efforts include a large solar thermal array that heats water, and a system that introduces outside air into a cold storage during the winter months, reducing refrigeration needs.”

Steam Whistle Brewing

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Our Canadian neighbors are on the sustainable bandwagon too. Steam Whistle touts on their website that it has been using biodiesel to power their delivery trucks since 2006. Steam Whistle partners with local biodiesel producer, Canada Clean Fuels, to fill up all of their delivery trucks with Biodiesel B20 overnight, making filling with renewable fuel hassle-free for Steam Whistle’s truck drivers.

Milwaukee Brewing Co.

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This Midwest gem proclaims that is was “founded on principles of crafting and creating beers using the best local ingredients and suppliers in a sustainable, creative and innovative environment.” And in order to adhere to these principles, the brewery hunts out sustainable operation processes—including, of course, using biodiesel.

One of the company’s boilers is designed to burn oil, so, according to the website, “the brewery scoundrels engineered a process to burn vegetable oil in that boiler. Waste vegetable oil from the Milwaukee Ale House and other local restaurants is used to provide VOC-free energy. In 2011, this furnished about 30% of the heating needs, and we continue to seek new sources of dirty vegetable oil. Fortunately, Milwaukee enjoys fried food, and the staple Friday Fish Fry alone could fuel the brewery for years to come.”

We’re thrilled to see so many brewers taking on a variety of sustainably measures, including the decision to seek out biodiesel fuel as a way to reduce petroleum oil use in the transportation and production of tasty, tasty beers.

kettle-beerAlso, if you’re looking for a crunchy treat to accompany your green-brewed beer, opt for Kettle Brand chips. They turn 100% of the waste vegetable oil from their production process into biodiesel. Plus, all of their inventive flavors are downright delicious.

2014 Geneva Motor Show diesel vehicle round-up

European auto shows tend to deliver on the diesel front, and this year’s Geneva Motor Show was no disappointment. I just hope these models make it to American showrooms in the future!

Below are my favorite diesels from the show. Basic specs and pics courtesy  of Autoblog Green.

Audi TT

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The third generation of this sporty little two-seater was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show with the exciting news that “Audi is offering a trio of engines for the new TT, including a 2.0-liter turbodiesel powerplant that’s good for 184 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and an excellent 56 miles per gallon.” Unfortunately, the the TDI option is currently unconfirmed for the US market. Here’s hoping!

Volkswagen Multivan Alltrack Concept

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The luxurious VW T5 MultiVan would take the vagabond-travel lifestyle to a whole new, classy level — or at least make hauling kids around in a van more appealing. The “nautical themed” van features an All-Wheel Drive system and a seven-speed transmission powered by a 177-horsepower diesel engine.

BMW X3

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Great news, this diesel will be available in the US! According to the Autoblog report, “in addition to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and 3.0-liter turbo-six, BMW will now offer an X3 xDrive28d, fitted with – you guessed it – the 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline four-cylinder engine found in the 328d sedan. Output for this engine is rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and BMW says this oil-burning mill will help the X3 reach 60 miles per hour in just under eight seconds. The automaker hasn’t released any information about real or predicted fuel economy figures for the diesel X3, as yet.”

Bentley SUV diesel

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Ok, so most of us will never be able to afford a Bentley, let alone a premium diesel model, but it warms my efficiency-loving heart to know that the option will be available for those who can. This wasn’t technically on the floor at the Geneva show, but Autoblog had the inside line from the a convo with the CEO. The luxury SUV is slated for production in 2017 and the possibility of offering a diesel engine option is currently in the works. In addition to the potential diesel option, the vehicle will be designed from the get-go as a plug-in hybrid. Hopefully, this Bentley will get the best of both efficiency worlds.

Volkswagen T-Roc Concept

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Autoblog is confident that VW plans to build a Golf-sized crossover that would nest under the existing, larger Tiguan and it will look something like the T-Roc Concept a “with its flexible new MQB architecture and a diverse family of suitable powertrains that include gas, diesel, compressed natural gas, plug-in hybrid and pure electric models.” Lots of options, that’s what we like to hear. Now just make sure at least the diesel option ends up Stateside.

Ok, you’re probably thinking, enough of the European diesel options. What about some sweet, super efficient diesels I can get in the good ol’ US of A? Look no further than our recent post on the Chicago Auto Show.

EPA aligns with CA emission standards, calling for cleaner cars and cleaner fuel

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the finalized “Tier 3″ standards for vehicle emissions levels. The standard promises to “quickly and effectively cut harmful soot, smog and toxic emissions from cars and trucks” and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on the road today, while bringing more fuel-efficient cars and trucks to market. The new standards closely align with emission levels and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions set forth by the California Air Resources Board, allowing carmakers to focus on meeting one cohesive standard for the entire country.

Together, the federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxics from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty, streamlining compliance, and reducing costs to consumers.

Tailpipe emission standards will phase in gradually starting in model year 2017 though 2025. The focus is on limiting emissions of non-methane organic gasses (NMOG), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particular matter (PM) for light-duty and some heavy-duty vehicles. All told, the tailpipe standards represent an 80% reduction from today’s average.

In addition, starting in 2017, gasoline refiners will be required to reduce sulfur content to no more than 10 parts per million on an annual average basis. That is a reduction of 60% from the current levels. According to the EPA, the “new low-sulfur gas will provide significant and immediate health benefits because every gas-powered vehicle on the road built prior to these standards will run cleaner – cutting smog-forming NOx emissions by 260,000 tons in 2018.”

The ultimate outcome of the standard will benefit consumers’ pocket books as well as overall public health. The changes promise to save Americans “more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicle’s lifetime” in fuel cost—and that adds up: “the fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.” Plus, by cleaning up air pollutants and harmful emissions, “once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children.”

Renewable fuels play a part in the program too—the program finalizes standards for E85 as an emissions test fuel (for the first time) in Flexible Fuel Vehicles and calls for the standard test gasoline to contain 10% ethanol by volume.

Read more about the EPA’s finalized Tier 3 emission standards.

New Diesels debut in Chicago: Smaller trucks, wagons and powerful sedans

Since diesels reappeared with ultra-clean emission standards in California showrooms in 2008, the options keep coming. And there were several new diesel vehicles making an appearance at the recent Chicago Auto Show.

One of the noteworthy debuts was Nissan’s Cummins-equipped Frontier “concept” truck. Looking for a diesel truck that’s smaller than your first apartment? Here it finally is. (Will Chevy respond? read on…)

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Nissan Frontier – photo: autoblog

This so-called “concept” vehicle is really just the Frontier DesertRunner 4×2 sans gasoline engine. Instead of the standard gasoline engine, the truck features a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel. Though,  according to Autoblog, it might be a few years before the concept is market ready.

BMW showed off their diesels too. The 2015 X3d is getting a new diesel option and the 740Ld xDrive sedan, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel. These models add to BMW’s growing lineup of diesel-powered options, including the 328d, 535d, and the X5d.

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740Ld – photo: autoblog

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X3d – photo: autoblog

Plus, the seventh-generation Golf vehicle line will be getting a refresh as the Golf SportWagen (the Jetta SportWagen will be incorporated into the Golf line) and it will definitely have TDI diesel option.

photo: autoblog

VW Golf SportWagen Variant – photo: autoblog

Not to be outdone by the likes of Nissan and Volkswagen,  Chevrolet is releasing both a midsize diesel-powered truck and a sporty turbodiesel sedan.

By 2016, the Chevy Colorado pickup will have a 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder diesel engine. And the 2014 Chevy Cruze TD is already cruisin’ the streets with its super efficient 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Chevrolet is a major supporter of renewable fuel options and proudly supports the use of Biodiesel B20 in its new diesel models.

photo: autoblog

Chevrolet Colorado – photo: autoblog

There are a few more diesels on the horizon that we will further investigate in the future, such as the Jeep Wrangler and the Frontier’s big brother, the Nissan Titan. It is encouraging to see so many diesel options coming to market. Renewable fuels, like biodiesel, are an integral part to helping meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel goals, so the more diesel options out on the road, the better! Just make sure to fill ‘em up with biodiesel.

For biodiesel locations, please visit propelfuels.com/locations.

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel rated most fuel efficient pickup

In a recent report issued by Motor Trend, the EPA has released fuel efficiency numbers for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel placing the full-size pickup at the top of its bracket for fuel efficiency. The rear-drive Ram 1500 with its EcoDiesel engine boasts a 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, which as earned it the title of Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year.”

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According to Motor Trend, the impressive mpg rating is “thanks to features like active grille shutters, an adjustable air suspension with an ‘aero’ mode, and a segment-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission.”

And just to note, the B20 biodiesel-approved EcoDiesel engine is the same fuel-efficient workhorse powering the diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Read more on the Ram 1500 from Motor Trend.

Hottest diesels on the road found at the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference

This year, a few members of the Propel Fuels’ team — myself included! — were lucky enough to attend the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference in San Diego, which happened to be timed beautifully with our Homegrown Roadshow 2.0 road trip. (Did you follow me & Em on our journey through SoCal? If not, be sure to check out Facebook to catch up on our shenanigans!)

A true opportunity to get back to our roots, the NBB Conference brings together folks from all rungs of the biodiesel industry—from manufacturers of processing components to fuel producers, vehicle manufacturers, and, of course, retailers like Propel that are dedicated to bringing those carefully processed fuels the last mile to consumers and fleet drivers like you.

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In addition to providing a rare opportunity to geek out with our industry brethren under one roof, the conference allowed to us to get to know our partners at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) a bit better. As the representing arm of the San Diego Clean Cities Coalition, the Center for Sustainable Energy is committed to increasing awareness of renewable energy programs, including renewable transportation fuels. We were happy to share a booth with CCSE’s local Program Assistant, Rebecca  (pictured below with the not-me Emily) and chat with industry folk and consumers, alike, about the advantages and availability of Propel’s biodiesel.

Plus, the conference gave a couple of us a chance to finally check out the latest diesel vehicles — and even climb behind the wheel of a few.

FORD F250
The F-series family has been a top selling truck line for over 60 years and for the past four years, the Ford F250 Super Duty trucks have proudly sported a B20 biodiesel badge. At the NBB conference, Ford brought out the F250 for the vehicle showcase and the “Ride-and-Drive.”

em_F250(Trying my best to mimic those fancy car gals we see at all the auto shows.)

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During the NBB-sponsored “Ride and Drive,” Propel’s Director of Fuel Supply & Logistics, Parker took the Ford F250 out for a spin. The standard Ford-built 6.7L Power Stroke® V8 Turbo Diesel offers 800 lbs of torque and 400 horsepower. And, of course, the B20 stamp of approval—higher mileage, better engine performance, and cleaner emissions.

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Having had previous experience with past generations of F250s, Parker’s reaction to the smooth handling and easy acceleration was enthusiastic. “This is a truck I could get used to driving, ” he proclaimed. The double cab was roomy with plenty of space for passengers and comfortable enough to be in it for the long haul. But, it is a work truck, and it is not small, so might not be the best about-town transportation.

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CHRYSLER JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ECODIESEL
To say that we’ve been excited about the release of the 2014 diesel Grand Cherokee is an understatement. We anticipated its arrival since the Detroit Autoshow early last year and now, finally, got the chance to inspect the Jeep in person.

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The 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee’s 3.0L EcoDiesel engine has a 30-mpg highway rating, can run up to 730 miles on one tank of fuel (Biodiesel B20, of course), and can tow up to 7,400 pounds. A great vehicle for rugged roads and superior fuel economy—and the B20-approval seals the deal.

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CHEVROLET CRUZE
Winner of the National Biodiesel Board’s 2014 Innovation Award, the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is the first light-duty passenger car in the U.S. to be fully approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends nationwide.

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Naturally, it was at the top of our Must-Test-Drive list. At Propel HQ, many of our team members own Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles, namely the Jetta TDI sedan, which is the German equivalent to the American Cruze. As a TDI-driver, myself, I was looking forward to trying out a US-produced diesel for comparison.

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The Cruze ran like a top, with smooth acceleration and only a gentle purr letting on to the diesel power. Some drivers might be disappointed to discover that the diesel is only offered with an automatic transmission and does not have a standard amenities package option—top of the line only, which means a bigger price tag for an already premium model. However, with a 46 mpg highway rating, beating out any hybrid on the market, it may be worth the extra cost. And as for the Cruze’s German competitor, the “Ride and Drive” guide was willing to go head-to-head with any Volkswagen diesel spec, matching or topping the Jetta TDI’s performance.

bulldozerAnd then there was this behemoth. While we didn’t have the chance to take this fancy biodiesel-friendly Cat Wheel Loader for a spin, Emily did prove that the wheel capacity is approximately one human. And the DPF filter catches 99% of all particulate matter. So fresh and so clean, clean!

– Emily S (“Shell”)

Five surprising things that can be made into fuel for your car

You may be familiar with the most common feedstocks for renewable fuel, but there is a whole host of lesser-known products that can be made into fuel for your car. Below we’ve listed  a few of our favorites.

1. CHRISTMAS TREES!

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Once January rolls around, un-tinseled and de-decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalks, waiting for garbage trucks headed to the dump. But in some cities, like San Francisco, California, discarded trees are turned into more than just landfill fodder. Instead, the trees are processed into biomass, which can be used as a renewable fuel feedstock.

Photo credit:  CINDY CHEW/S.F. EXAMINER

2. SUNFLOWERS

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Sunflowers, as it turns out, aren’t just for brightening up long stretches of rural highway or yielding seeds for snacking and spitting: they can also help power your diesel car. Those same seeds you seed scattered under the bleachers at the local Little League diamond have a high oil content that makes an ideal biodiesel feedstock. Next to solar-powered vehicles, it just might be the closest you’ll get to running on sunshine.

3. ALGAE

These little photosynthesis machines are masters of turning sunlight and CO2 into energy. Industrious producers, like the fermenting engineers at Solazyme, can capture the processing power of algae to create a super-efficient source of  renewable oil. Last year, in a successful month long pilot program, Propel Fuels and Solazyme partnered up to launch the nation’s first publicly available algae-derived biodiesel at Propel stations across the Bay Area. Hopefully, a full-scale launch is in the near future.

Photo credit:  National Algae Association

4. CORN COBS

Forget the kernel, just give me the cob! Ethanol producers are developing methods to use agricultural waste, like corns cobs and stalks, as feedstock for producing cellulosic ethanol, an alcohol-based fuel. In fact, “Project Liberty,” a 20-million-gallon cellulosic fuel plant operated by POET is slated to open this year, and the resulting fuel can be plugged right into today’s growing network of ethanol retail stations.

Photo credit:  Domestic Fuel

5. ANIMAL FATS

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Turns out you can make biodiesel from pretty much any fatty oil including the leftovers from rendering plants a.k.a tallow a.k.a animal fats. In fact, the diesel Mazda6 NASCAR racer was loaded up with some “chicken guts, beef tallow and pork lard” biodiesel for the Rolex 24 Endurance Race in Daytona this past spring. Perhaps the bumper sticker, “My Car Eats Meat” is apt?

Producer Spotlight: New Leaf Biofuel

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Driving with Propel biodiesel in Southern California? Here’s a look at the amazing people & process behind your favorite fuel. New Leaf Biofuel based out of San Diego California has been producing high quality biodiesel with pride and purpose since 2005.  Started by a group of innovative recent college grads, New Leaf has a mission firmly grounded in their San Diego community: to enhance air quality, sustainability, and strengthen the local economy.

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The high quality biodiesel produced by New Leaf starts off as fryer grease and waste oil from local restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other businesses. New Leaf collects the used cooking oil and brings it back to their production facility, which is conveniently located right in San Diego. Once at the plant, the waste grease is filtered, purified, and cleaned up–all to prepare for the processor that turns the oil into high grade biodiesel ready to be distributed to fleets and retailers, like Propel Fuels!

“The best thing a potential consumer of biodiesel can do is to find a manufacturer who is strict about control,” said CEO Jennifer Case in a Union-Tribe San Diego article highlighting New Leaf. “We are trying to make a product that is going to be accepted in the marketplace. Therefore we have to be really strict about our quality standards. If everybody else who makes biodiesel did the same thing, we would be able to go into the next level and become a fuel that people used commonly and that states, cities and commercial fleets were confident that it wasn’t going to harm their engine.”

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The waste-grease-to-biodiesel-fuel is win-win setup on several levels. First of all, instead of paying  to dispose of waste grease, businesses and organizations with industrial kitchens have a reliable revenue stream from selling their used cooking oil New Leaf. Secondly, as a domestic (really, hometown) facility, New Leaf creates valuable industrial jobs that support the local economy. And, last but not least, New Leaf produces a cleaner-burning fuel from renewable resources for use in diesel engines across San Diego.

Creating value for business. Supporting the domestic economy. And helping to make a healthier, more sustainable community. All in a days work. Nicely done, New Leaf!

Fill up with New Leaf’s biodiesel at select Propel locations in Southern California.

Learn more about Propel’s renewable fuel producer partners.

Top 3 Diesel Commercial Van Options

Businesses looking for a smart way to keep costs down, fuel economy up, and carbon emissions low have long looked toward diesel commercial vehicles  for their fleet. And who can blame them?

1) The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Equipped with a turbo diesel engine, the Sprinter has reined supreme among commercial van choices in recent years. The large sizes, custom options, and versatility make the Sprinter an ideal option, especially for businesses looking to maximize fuel economy.

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Judi’s Cleaners uses Propel for their diesel Sprinters.

But while the Sprinter has been the go-to vehicle for fleets and small businesses looking to haul efficiently, two new commercial vans — both boasting the latest in clean, fuel efficient diesel technology — are bringing an element of much-needed competition to the marketplace. And we have to admit: these vans go in style.

2) The Ford Transit Connect.

2015 Ford Transit Connect

You may have seen these compact commercial vans delivering and moving goods around your city. Currently, all the Connects are gasoline-only (not even a flexible fuel model!). However, this is soon to change with the introduction of the 2015 Transit Connect  3.2L I-5 Power Stroke Turbo Diesel. AND, for those looking for E85 compatibility, the 2015 Transit Connect will also have a Flexible Fuel model option. Look for both options to begin appearing at a dealership near you by Summer 2014.

3) The Ram ProMaster Van.

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This is the first Chrysler group foray into commercial diesel vans since the split with Daimler (when the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter went its own way). The ProMaster sports a 3L EcoDiesel V-6 with a selection of body styles – Cargo Van (pictured above), Chassis Cab, Cutway, and Window Van. In short, an option for the contractor, the cupcake caterer and everyone in between.

It’s fantastic to see a more diverse selection of diesel commercial vehicles on the market here in the US of A. As enthusiasts far and wide can already attest, diesel drivers experience great performance with better fuel economy — and, of course, the option to run any diesel vehicle on cleaner-burning, American-made biodiesel is never a bad thing.

Does your business run on diesel? Comment below and let us know why you choose diesel for your fleet. And be sure to visit us online to learn more about biodiesel for businesses or to find a biodiesel station near you.

World Record for fuel economy goes to a diesel!

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, diesels are cleaning up on the podium. This time it is a Guinness World Record for the best fuel economy. The Volkswagen Passat TDI, driven by a two-man team for 8,122-miles across America, achieved 77.99 miles per gallon. A full 10 miles per gallon better than the previous record! And it flew passed the hybrid record by a whopping 13 miles per gallon.

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Drivers, Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, purchased only 104.94 gallons of diesel fuel for the entire distance of their tour. The duo used common hyper-miling techniques like steady acceleration after stopping, utilizing momentum, and sticking to the speed limit. Doesn’t sound too tricky! Even without any fancy driving techniques, the Volkswagen Passat TDI is rated an EPA estimated 43 miles per gallon on the highway.

Read more about  record setting VW TDIs  and  history of their awesome fuel economy.

Photo credit: Autoweek.com.

Ethanol proves to be a sweet opportunity for California farmers

Most of California’s sugar mills have closed up shop in recent years, leaving sugar beet farmers without a market for their crop. But now ethanol derived from sugar beets is providing a new opportunity for these farmers and their communities.

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Farmers in the small community of Mendota, California are leading an effort to bring back the once widely-grown sugar beet crop. In 2008, Spreckels sugar plant was shuttered, leaving many residents without a job and farmers without a purchaser for their beets. In a stroke of ingenuity, the seed company suggested the community grow beets for ethanol. Thus, the Mendota Bioenergy company was formed!

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According to a recent report from California public radio, “Mendota Bioenergy has a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission – and the partnership of university experts from UC Davis and Fresno State – to complete the test site. It should be up and running this winter and, if all goes as planned, the company will then build the nation’s first commercial sugar beet biorefinery in Mendota by 2017.”

Mendota Bioenergy will not only produce a domestic alternative to petroleum gasoline, but the ethanol plant itself will also have a sustainable focus with measures in place to let nothing go to waste. Plus, beets grow well on marginal lands and require very little fresh water. Overall, ethanol produced from California-grown sugar beets and processed in the Mendota refinery will have a much lower carbon footprint than petroleum gasoline, lower even than typical corn-based ethanol. Now that sounds like a sweet deal.

Read more from The California Report.

U of M Study says “Go Clean Diesel, Save Money”

U of MMaybe we’re preaching to the choir, but a new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that clean diesel vehicles save their owners money. And of course, choosing that diesel vehicle opens the door to using high performance, lower carbon, American made biodiesel. Even when paying a bit more for the diesel model, the Transportation Research Institute found that a diesel’s total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower than the gas version. Here’s how they put it…

“Our results show that clean diesel vehicles generally provide a return on investment in both the three- and five-year timeframes, though there are differences in the amounts of return among mass market vehicles, medium duty trucks, and luxury vehicles,” authors Bruce M. Belzowski and Paul Green, assistant research scientists with UMTRI, state in their report. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

Read more at http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/articles/9232/study-shows-diesels-save-owners-money-over-gasoline-versions.

More Californians choose diesel vehicles

That’s right. Californians, purveyors of the hippest trends, are choosing diesel vehicles more than ever. As reported by the Diesel Technology Forum, data complied by R.L. Polk & Co shows registration of diesel cars and SUVs in the state have increased 55% from 2010 to 2012. Not too shabby, fellow trend-setters. And the rest of the country is following suit, albeit at a slower pace, with diesel vehicle registrations up 24%.

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Total number of diesel vehicles in the U.S.  is over 6.6 million vehicles. While that may seem like a large chunk, that’s only 3% of all vehicle registrations. However, according to Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, “Auto analysts and market researchers virtually all agree diesel sales are going to increase significantly as the number of new diesels made available domestically will more than double in the next two years. Some analysts predict diesel sales will reach 10 percent of the U.S. market by 2020.”

Why is diesel making a comeback?
(1) New clean diesel technology. Diesel engine technology has cleaned up its act. No longer are diesel vehicles the smoggy, smoke-belching clunky truck of grandaddy’s day. Thanks in part to California’s strict emission standards implemented decades ago, dirty diesels were forced out. In their place, we welcome Mercedes BlueTec engines, Volkswagen clean diesels, and countless more eco-friendly diesel vehicle platforms.

(2) Awesome fuel economy. Efficiency is the name of the game, and diesel engine technology is a winner. In 2009, Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI won “Green Car of the Year,” beating out other high-mileage technology platforms like electric and hybrid vehicles.   Then another diesel took the top billing in 2010, when the Audi A3 TDI was named the greenest ride.

(3) Biodiesel! The best reason of all? Diesel vehicles can run cleaner burning fuel made right here in America from renewable resources.  Learn more about running biodiesel and find a biodiesel station near you.

Also, we should note, before diesel-loving Californians get too cocky, Texas is #1 in Total Diesel Passenger Vehicles, SUVs, Pickup Trucks, and Van registrations…

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Looking for diesle vehicles options? Check out the Diesel Forums comprehensive list of clean diesel vehicles currently available in the U.S.

More (smaller) choices in alt fuel cars

Don’t need a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford F350? You are not alone. And while diesel passenger car registrations are on the rise – the choices for smaller cars compatible with biodiesel and Flex Fuel are not great. The good news is they are getting better. Here are a couple new options that do not require an addition to your garage.

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The Dodge Dart FFV is a welcomed newcomer to renewable fuels with an entry price of $16,000. Chrysler hasn’t officially said when the Dart will become flex-fuel capable, but the 2.0-liter Tigershark engine is designed as an FFV. Chrysler and IAV representatives at the SAE World Congress at Cobo Hall reported the engine will be going into the 2014 Dart, which is due later this year.

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Starting MSRP for the B20-ready diesel Chevy Cruze is reported to be $25,695, and GM plans to sell them in markets where its B20-approved Chevrolet Silverado diesel models have done well, including the West Coast. The 2014 Cruze is expected to move into production this summer (2013), and gets better mileage than most hybrids.

More than 33 light- and medium-duty diesel passenger cars and trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel models from nearly 20 different brands, will be available in the market this year. In addition to its Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks, Ford is introducing a new diesel model in its Ford Transit full size van which will also be approved for use with B20 biodiesel.  Additionally, Chrysler’s new 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickup features 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel powertrain.  The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty diesel pickups are approved for general use with B20 by all customers beginning in January 2013.

Super Efficient Diesel-Electric Plug-Ins Abuzz at Geneva

To our delight, several manufacturers unveiled diesel-electric hybrid models at the Geneva Autoshow, including Volkswagen’s XL1 diesel-powered plug-in hybrid, touted as the “world’s most efficient car.” Reminiscent of a tictac on wheels, the XLI is a spacey, futuristic-styled two-seater claiming a whopping 261 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

volkswagen-xl1-geneva-2013No word on how many of these snazzy little diesel-sippers will go into production or what the price tag might be (rumors suggest over six-figures), but we like the direction VW is headed.  For more information, check out autoblog’s report.

Ready for more diesel-electric thrills from Geneva?

Subaru showed off the Viziv diesel hybrid crossover. A concept vehicle that is the poster child for Subaru’s  “Vision for Innovation,” the Viziv offers a glimpse into future design and technological direction for the company.

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Mitsubishi also brought a diesel-hybrid concept to the spotlight in Geneva: the Concept GR-HEV, a Sport Utility Hybrid Truck. According to Autoblog, “the vehicle’s drivetrain is good for CO2 emissions of 149 grams per kilometer. For comparison’s sake, the global 2012 Ford Ranger emits 264 g/km when equipped with the 3.2-liter turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission.” Nice.

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Learn more about current diesel vehicle options and cleaner fuels for diesel vehicles at www.propelfuels.com.

Photo Credits — Autoblog.com

Chevy Endorses B20 for 2014 Clean Diesel Cruze

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-front-side-viewBiodiesel enthusiasts rejoice. After months — nay, years — of teasing, Chevy has formally announced a clean diesel version of their popular Cruze sedan, currently slated to join the 2014 lineup.

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-front-viewBut wait, there’s more.

On top of offering up to 42 mpg highway and 90% less NOx than previous-gen diesel engines, Chevy’s clean diesel Cruze also boasts the automaker’s official seal of approval when it comes to Biodiesel B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel — a big win for fans of the cleaner-burning, more American-made fuel.

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-rear-view-badge

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-badgeWhile any diesel vehicle can safely run B20 without conversion or modification, an increasing number of auto manufacturers are formally endorsing use of the fuel in their new clean diesel models. Ford, Chevy, Cummins, Isuzu and others have all adopted pro-B20 messages in recent years, with vehicles like Ford’s diesel F-Series Super Duty even bearing a leaf-adorned B20 addition on the vehicle’s iconic Powerstroke badge.

Until recently, diesel passenger vehicles in the US were limited to TDI models from VW, Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Entering the market at ~$25k MSRP and slated to enter production this summer, the Cruze is the first diesel sedan to enter the US market from an American automaker  in recent history.

“This Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel represents a new era in diesel performance for American cars,” said Jens Wartha, GM chief engineer in a press release issued by GM earlier this week. “We’ve adapted a proven engine from Europe, the world’s diesel capital, and married it with the emissions-reducing technology that was perfected in the United States. It’s a great example of how Chevrolet’s global resources work harmoniously to produce the right product at the right time and for the right market.”

For those that associate diesel vehicles with rumbly, chugging engines, the diesel Cruze boasts several noise dampening extras that further hush the already-quiet 2.0L turbo diesel motor, including a unique dash mat, hood blanket and more.

Fuel efficiency, greener fueling and a quiet cabin? Sounds good to us.

For full details, view the full press release at GM.com.
To learn more about biodiesel, visit Propel Fuels.

Photo Credit – Chevy Cruze Images: MotorTrend.com

Detroit Autoshow. We like what we see.

This year’s Detroit Autoshow boasted plenty of shiny, drool-worthy vehicles, and, as renewable fuel enthusiasts, a couple in particular caught our eye.

Diesel (!) Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

First of all, we love our diesels, especially the re-release on American soil of an old favorite like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler’s new EcoDiesel V6 powers this off-roading champ. For all the specs and in-depth details, read Autoblog’s review on the Grand Cherokee’s comprehensive update.

Volkswagen CrossBlue Diesel-Hybrid.

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Be still our efficiency-loving hearts! Did you just say DIESEL-HYBRID? Before you get your hopes up too much, for now it’s a concept only. According to Volkswagen, the three-row crossover has an estimated fuel economy of 35 mpg combined and a whopping 89 mpg in electric mode. Get the scoop from Autoblog.

X-Truck Plug-In Hybrid Concept.

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It might be hard to tell but the X-Truck is a suped-up, highly-modified Chevy Silverado by Via Motors. The most obvious addition is the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which enables it to get the touted, but still unofficial, 100 miles per gallon. The truck still uses a 5.3-liter V8 from GM as a gas generator–when the battery is in a low state-of-charge, the generator kicks in and helps power up the battery packs. This begs the question: is the V8 Flex Fuel E85 compatible?! We certainly hope so!

New Clean Fuel Point is now open in Sacramento – Try Propel fuel for FREE!

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Come get your fill of Flex Fuel E85 and Biodiesel B20 at Propel’s new Clean Fuel Point in Sacramento @ Mak’s Valero station, 1101 Broadway. During the Grand Opening event, try $10 of Flex Fuel E85 or Biodiesel B20 for FREE!

The Grand Opening celebration goes from Tuesday, September 11 through Friday, September 14, 10am – 7pm. Hope to see you all there!

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A breath of fresh air: Propel launches Clean Mobility Center in Fullerton, CA

Last week, Propel Fuels hosted the grand opening of the first-of-its-kind Clean Mobility Center in Fullerton, CA. While America’s driving habits are evolving, gas stations have not substantially changed since the early 1900′s–until now. The innovative Clean Mobility Center redefines your average fueling experience with several key station features:

  • Renewable (Flex Fuel E85 and biodiesel) and conventional fuel choices
  • Carbon Offset options for fuel purchases
  • Free air for tires for better MPGs
  • Free self-serve air and tools for bikes
  • Recycling at the pump

For the grand opening event, Propel hosted some of California’s most illustrious clean energy leaders, including Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, and Commissioner Andrew McAllister from the California Energy Commission. Moreover, the event attracted representatives from the state and regional government as well as Fullerton Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, Theresa Harvey.  The Fullerton community welcomed Propel in grand style with an official ribbon cutting ceremony–we are grateful for such a warm welcome!

Check out pictures from the grand opening festivities:

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“On the Green Road” Tops Off at Propel Berkeley

While Propel’s Homegrown Roadshow team of Emily and Emily were between events in the SF Bay Area, they paid a visit to our Berkeley Clean Fuel Point to meet up with Cece Reinhardt, one of the partners behind On the Green Road. Per the duo’s website (which is also a live blog of their adventures), the goal of On the Green Road is to “green an Airstream, turn a used diesel truck into a veggie oil machine and hit the road in complete ‘off the grid’ style.”

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Amazingly, Cece and her fellow road-tripper Brenda Daugherty have been living out this journey since the end of last year and have plans to canvas much of the US and even parts of Canada while “driving towards sustainability one mile at a time.” And while Cece didn’t have the Airstream in tow when Propel met up with her in Berkeley to donate a well-earned tank of B20 biodiesel, she did promise that we’d meet again. We hope so! Best of luck to these road warriors as they live out their green dreams in sweet Airstream style.

Learn about Cece and Brenda’s On the Green Road adventure at www.greenrvlife.com, and find out where the Homegrown Roadshow is headed next at propelfuels.com/roadshow.

The Homegrown Roadshow is Coming to Town!

Yeehaw! This March, Propel is taking our show on the road, visiting seven of our CA fuel sites to bring Flex Fuel and Biodiesel drivers the chance to try clean burning, American-made fuels for free.

From the Bay Area  all the way down to San Diego, Propel’s Roadshow duo Emily and Emily will be cruising the West Coast, sharing their renewable fuel knowledge and offering new Propel customers at least $10 of free fuel along the way. The tour kicks off on Wednesday, March 7, in Elk Grove, CA (just outside of Sacramento) and concludes Friday, March 23 in Arcadia, CA (just outside of LA). For a full list of dates and locations, be sure to visit the Homegrown Roadshow online.

In addition to free fuel, Roadshow event attendees can also partake in special offers and giveaways from our convenience store partners. Own a business with fleet vehicles? We’ll have a dedicated fleet specialist on-hand at every event to discuss exclusive fleet savings and the many performance advantages of Flex Fuel and Biodiesel.

Can’t make it to an event? Starting next week, drivers can follow the Roadshow live on Facebook, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our official tour vehicle, Scout, passing through town. Every Scout or Roadshow picture posted to Facebook is a chance to win Propel swag and free fuel, so whether you see us live in person or you spy Scout zipping around your city, snap away!

See you on the Roadshow!

UW Students to Retrofit Chevy Malibu to Run on Propel Biodiesel

The UW EcoCAR2 Team Receives $25,000 in seed money to kick-off the design of their plug-in hybrid, biodiesel Chevy Malibu.

As part of a program sponsored by the US Department of Energy, a team of students from the University of Washington is engineering a design will convert a conventional 2013 Chevy Malibu into a plug-in hybrid also capable of running on biodiesel.

According to Biodiesel Magazine, the program — titled EcoCAR2 — kicked off in mid-April 2011. Sixteen teams from across the country were selected to participate in the competition, which is co-sponsored by General Motors. According to UW’s EcoCar2 team leader Trevor Crain, the challenge requires that the Malibu (donated by GM) becomes not only a plug-in hybrid but successfully runs on biodiesel B20, E10, E85, hydrogen or grid-sourced electricity.

By choosing biodiesel, the team hopes to convey that diesel engines can be highly efficient and clean — and while Crain’s team of 50+ students would like to fill the car with a high-blend biodiesel, program regulations cap the blend at B20. Propel Fuels, which operates several biodiesel retail locations in the greater Seattle area, will provide the fuel.

Spanning three years total, the EcoCAR2 competition begins with a year-long design phase, after which the vehicle will be delivered for actual modification and conversion.

For more information on the project, visit Biodiesel Magazine, or visit the University of Washington’s project website at www.uwecocar2.com.

2012 VW Passat TDI ranks #1 for fuel economy over hybrids

Consumers don’t often consider full-size options when on the hunt for fuel efficient vehicles; however, there is a new class of roomy sedans boasting better fuel economy than previous generations. Motor Trend put three of these super efficient sedans in a head-to-head comparison to see which would come out on top in a miles-per-gallon competition.  The three vehicles compared include two hybrids, 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2012 Toyota Camry, and one diesel, 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. After comparing road test mileage, driving experience and design, the VW Passat won hands down.

While the article had positive things to say about both the Hyundai and the Toyota, the Passat took first place by a long shot. With a highway rating of 40 mpg, on one tank of fuel the Passat can cruise the interstate for 740 miles without needing a pitstop. Add in a six-speed manual transmission and that range shoots up to 43 miles per gallon and 796 miles per tank. Overall, Motor Trend concludes that the superior trunk space (no pesky batteries infringing on storage capacity), “the first-rate steering and taut, lively suspension deliver a rewarding, responsive drive that can’t be matched in this group.”

Read more from Motor Trend.

The best part about diesel vehicles? You can run clean, American made biodiesel without any conversion. Find a Propel biodiesel location near you.

Major Commercial Airlines Launch Biofuels Flights

Two commercial airlines are taking biofuels to the skies, and with a bit of competition in the air, biofuels for aviation are becoming a reality.

Just this morning, United Airlines launched the first commercial US flight operated by biofuels. Powered by Solazyme Solajet fuel, flight 1403 (a Boeing 737-800 Eco Skies aircraft) departed from Bush International Airport in Texas en route to Chicago O’ Hare International Airport in Illinois. The Solajet fuel used was a blend of 60% biofuels and 40% conventional petroleum-derived jetfuels.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines plans to launch its first regularly-scheduled route powered by biofuels this Wednesday, November 9. The carrier’s passenger flights from Seattle-to-Washtington, D.C. and Seattle-to-Portland will both be regularly fueled by a 20% used cooking oil-based biofuel blend from Dynamic Fuels. In total, Alaska (and its sister airline Horizon) will operate 75 biofueled flights over the next few weeks.

“This is a historic week for U.S. aviation. The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation’s future,” Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer was reported as saying in an article from Biofuels Digest. “What we need is an adequate, affordable and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it.”

To learn more about the future of biofuels in commercial aviation, read the full article at Biofuels Digest online.

Propel’s gone mobile!

We are happy to announce the launch of Propel Mobile. Visit propelfuels.com from your smart phone to get started.

The new Propel Fuels mobile site has everything you need to find and fill with Propel renewable fuels. In addition to the great features above, now you can:

  • Contact Customer Service with the touch of a button
  • Get the facts about our clean fuels
  • Add Propel to your home screen for quick, app-like access on the go
  • Easily access our main site for our full suite of online resources

“Love, the Bus” Loves Biodiesel!

Here at Propel, we love a renewable-fueled tour bus. But what we love even more is a renewable-fueled tour bus that loves us back. Enter: Love, the Bus.

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Love, the Bus is a cross-country charity project incepted by Maine natives Tyler Dunham, Seth Brown and Corey McLean — a trio with a mission to bring their youthful energy and creativity to local organizations across the nation.

Said Kelsey Aroian of the Love Bus crew, “We’ve been touring the country on a huge ‘adventure for good,’ spreading a message of optimism and environmental sustainability. We’re proud to spread the good word about alternative fuels on our journey.”

Fueling their mission is the Love, the Bus bus, itself — a behemoth in green powered by none other than waste veggie oil (WVO) — and the occasional reserve of biodiesel, which is necessary to heat up the team’s WVO system. Propel was happy to host the bus at our Wilmington, CA, Clean Fuel Point when it rolled through Southern CA yesterday.

“We received our first batch of biodiesel in California from Propel Fuels and heard about their fantastic CleanDrive program.  We’re excited to join with them in their efforts toward cleaner fuels and a healthier planet!” said Kelsey.

Along their travels, the Love, the Bus team has been documenting their journey through daily video updates that viewers can interact with online. Every week, the group completes a new challenge to creatively fund local organizations near where that challenge is completed. All of their challenges, most of the money they distribute, and their general tour road map, is dictated by viewers and fans.

To play your part in the Love, the Bus project, and to view fresh episodes of Tyler, Corey and Seth’s travels, visit www.lovethebus.tv.

B20 Biodiesel Now Endorsed by 95% of Medium Duty Truck Market

B20 biodiesel blends are now approved by more than 95 percent of the medium duty truck market in the U.S., and by more than 60 percent of the U.S. diesel vehicle and equipment manufacturers as a whole.

At High Efficiency Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Conference in Baltimore this week the B20 approved 2012 Hino 195h diesel-electric hybrid truck made its debut.  Hino’s B20 approval statement joins Isuzu Commercial Trucks, Ford Motor Company, International / Navistar, Chevrolet, Cummins engines and others.

Hino Trucks, a Toyota Group Company, announced its full approval for use of B20 biodiesel blends in its new hybrid-electric truck as well as its complete product line of class 4 and 5 cab over, and class 6 and 7 conventional trucks in July 2011.  Hino is the world’s third largest manufacturer of light and medium duty trucks, and now the fastest growing truck manufacturer in the U.S.

More about the High Efficiency Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Conference: http://www.htuf2011.org/
More about Hino Trucks: http://www.hino.com/

B20 Biodiesel powers land speed record

This is not your granddady’s diesel pickup truck. The Hajek Motor’s Ford F250 Super Duty powertrain truck recently broke the land speed record for diesel vehicles on the Bonneville Saltflats–then they filled ‘er up with Biodiesel B20, turned around, and broke the record again!

The previous speed record was set by a BMW motorcycle at 130 mph. The Hajek Ford F250 had slight modifications to upgrade the fuel injectors, fuel system, and turbocharge, but was otherwise mostly stock. Running petroleum diesel, the truck reach over 177 mph, but with biodiesel B20 they smashed the record, reaching speeds over 182 mph.

Depending on the feedstock, biodiesel delivers greater energy density than petroleum diesel. According to the National Biodiesel Board, the B20 used by Hajek was produced by a Missouri biodiesel plant and purchased and donated by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council.

Read more from Autoblog.

The new Propel Fuels website is here!

Drumroll please! After months (on our end) of anticipation, we’re excited to announce that PropelFuels.com is now easier to use and more community-driven than ever:


Informative content, enhanced navigation.
We know your time is valuable. With the new PropelFuels.com, you’ll also find quick access to dedicated sections for:

  • Vehicles: Millions of vehicles on the road today can run renewable fuels. Can yours?
  • Resources: Access third-party studies, fuel FAQs, the truth about biofuel myths and more
  • Fleet & Commercial: Find customer solutions, exclusive fleet savings and real user testimonials
  • Owners & Operators: All our questions abou bringing clean fuels to your station answered