Tag Archives: low-carbon fuel

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.

Audi gets behind renewable gasoline made from sugar

Audi  sees renewable biofuel alternatives as an integral part of the future of motor fuels—in fact, according to a recent report from Wired, the automaker is investing in gasoline made from sugar. This sweet fuel can run in any gasoline-powered vehicle, without modification!

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image: audi

Audi has partnered with Global Bioenergies, a French company creating bio-isooctane by fermenting sugar with specially engineered E. coli bacteria. This reduces production cost and increases efficiency.

“Bio-isooctane can be used as a direct replacement for gasoline, or blended with conventional gasoline much like ethanol. The company has demonstrated the process in a lab, and is in the process of building two production plants. The goal is to produce more than 100,000 liters of gasoline annually — a pittance from a global perspective, but the program is a working proof-of-concept, and that’s where Audi’s investment comes in.”

Bio-iooctane is not the only “drop-in” fuel headed to the pump. Renewable diesel made from tallow and other renewable oils is in production and ready to replace petroleum diesel in the near future. And it just so happens that Audi has several turbo diesel models on the roads and more on the way—looks like Audi is on board with renewable fuel and ready to offer drivers choice at the pump.

Read more from Wired.

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.

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.

Now that’s fast. E85-powered motorcycle hits 200mph in a mile.

We know racers love E85–the fuel increases performance and helps vehicles go, well, fast. Just how fast you ask? According to The Scoop Blog, the fellows over at No Regret Performance, optimized a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle to run E85 and managed to reach over 209.98 miles per hour in a standing mile. Talk about zoom.

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

The racers of No Regret Performance, Jean-Pierre Trzebiatowski and Thomas Cronan, made several modifications to the motorcycle in order to run the high-blend ethanol fuel, including upgrading the fuel system, replacing injectors, and reprograming the bike’s computer. For the full scoop on the team’s technical modifications, check out Holly Jessen’s post.

Not mechanically savvy? Me neither. Luckily, there are plenty of cars right off the assembly line ready to run high-performance E85. Check out our list of Flex Fuel E85 compatible vehicles: www.propelfuels.com/vehicles.

Consumer Reports Says Flex Fuel Chevy Impala “Top of Class”

Chevrolet Impala It’s good to have a Flex Fuel vehicle on top. Consumer Reports is calling the  E85-friendy 2014 Chevrolet Impala the “best new sedan the magazine has tested in its category.” It’s the first time an American sedan has held that standing in at least 20 years. The Impala scored a 95 out of a possible 100. Only 2 other vehicles scored better in the overall report: the BMW 135I coupe and the no-gas-at-all Tesla Model S. The totally redesigned Impala’s 300 hp, 3.6L V6 engine includes E85 Flex Fuel capability as standard for the 2LT and 2LZ trim levels. Read the full report at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/09/chevrolet-impala-review/index.htm. To see a list of all available Flex Fuel models, visit www.propelfuels.com/driveE85.

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.

Ethanol fuels American Le Mans Series

Ethanol blends are the top fuel choice for vehicles in the 2013 American Le Mans race series.  The added performance benefits and eco-friendly quality of ethanol  make ethanol fuel blends the preferred choice for the performance-demanding Le Mans racers.

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As part of meeting the Green Racing protocols and the International Motor Sports Association, American Le Mans cars must choose from four sanctioned fuels, including clean diesel, E10, E85 and isobutanol. At the start of the season, vehicles racing in the series choose to use either E85 (85% ethanol) or E10 (10% ethanol) for the duration of the races.

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It’s not hard to see why ethanol is a popular choice with the fuel’s wicked 100 octane rating. According to a special piece in the Chicago Tribune covering alternative vehicle news, ethanol’s higher octane rating “helps prevent pre-firing of an engine’s pistons and allows the race car to get more bang for the buck.” Plus, “heat takes its toll on engines, especially in [ALMS] cars. Ethanol is said to contain less heat energy than gasoline per volume, releasing less as it is burned.”

Racers might prefer ethanol for the performance benefits, but the fuel’s green factor is what truly makes it stand out. In high-blends like E85, ethanol fuel emits 20% fewer carbon emissions than conventional petroleum gasoline. And the best part? E85 is not reserved for Le Mans vehicles only. Many consumer vehicles can run E85 and get the same performance benefits. Find out if your car can drive E85.

Thanks to alms.com for photos from raceday in Monterey.

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.

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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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!

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.

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

New engines maximize ethanol’s power and MPGs

Most drivers like the power, price and renewable benefits of E85, but are looking for ways to increase MPGs. Engines designed with gasoline as the primary fuel are not maximizing ethanol’s potential, which can often lead to mileage penalties. However, new  technology from manufactures like Ricardo is geared toward running efficiently with ethanol’s higher octane rating.

In a recent interview with Fleet Owner magazine, Robert Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass Conversions pointed out that, “Such engine designs tap into the positive ability of ethanol to resist early ignition, thus regaining much of the previous fuel economy loss,” Kozak explained. “Higher octane ethanol makes an internal combustion engine operate more efficiently – up in the 30% to even 40% range – while it’s also priced lower than gasoline, on the order of 10 to 15%, because of its lower Btu or energy content.”

The goal is to produce direct injection engines that perform equal to if not more efficiently than current gasoline engines. And this is what Ricardo engine product group has developed in their ethanol boosted direct injection platform.  According to Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo, Ethanol’s higher octane rating allows the fuel to withstand compression rates closer to that of diesel engines. The higher the compression rates the better an engine can translate energy into power.

These first steps toward boosting ethanol efficiency in heavy-duty engines opens the door for continued technology innovation and helps solidify ethanol as a desirable choice for drivers.

Read more from Fleet Owner.

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.

Wired Magazine Debunks Top Five Ethanol Myths

We couldn’t help but repost this succinct and well-written piece from Wired Magazine’s Forrest Jehlik — guest contributor extraordinaire and mechanical engineer for the US Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory’s Transportation Technology R&D Center.

While there is no single super-solution to all the world’s energy needs, ethanol-based Flex Fuel E85 is a domestically produced, sustainable fuel that is readily compatible with millions of vehicles on the road today, no conversion or modification required. (See a list of current Flex Fuel vehicles here.)

As Jehlik writes, he’s spent a lot of time at Argonne researching ethanol (though an editor’s note clarifies that he remains energy-neutral). In the article, Jehlik quickly debunks the following five ethanol myths, with legitimate sources to boot:

>> READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM WIRED.COM

Myth #1: Ethanol requires more energy to make than it yields.
Myth #2: Ethanol production reduces our food supply.
Myth #3: Ethanol crops and production emit more greenhouse gases than gasoline.
Myth #4: Ethanol requires too much water to produce.
Myth #5: Cars get lower gas mileage with ethanol.
(Currently, there is some truth to this last one, but modern engineering could significantly improve fuel economy and further increase a cents-per-mile advantage for ethanol.)

Jehlik’s piece is a reminder that ethanol is an alternative fuel that can be readily used to help relieve our dependence on petroleum today – and next generation ethanol fuels will only increase in sustainability and energy efficiency.

Be sure to check out Jehlik’s full write-up at Wired.com, or for more information on ethanol as a fuel, visit the Argonne National Laboratory Transportation Technology R&D Center and the Renewable Fuels Association online.

Michigan Sheriff’s Fleet Saves with E85

Low price at the pump combined with limited MPG-loss combine for significant savings.

Huron County Sheriff’s Office began an experiment last March that had the department testing blends of Ethanol from E50 to E85. The goal: saving the county money through its fleet of 12 flex-fuel vehicles.

Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson found that as long as ethanol prices are less per gallon than the price at the pump for unleaded fuel, it would result in a significant cost savings. “As it turns out, our patrol fleet, which is mainly Chevrolet Impala cars, averaged between 1.5 miles to 2 miles less per gallon on E85 as opposed to unleaded,” said Hanson.

The Department also experimented with E50 and found that there was just about a one mile per gallon difference.

“When we basically went and took a pencil to it, it was determined that as long as pricing patterns remained the same, E85 would be the better choice,” he said. “Obviously, we are going to have to continuously monitor price differences in order for the county to benefit.”

If the price difference (with unleaded fuel costing significantly more) remains the same between E85 and unleaded, Hanson said the department stands to save nearly $1,000 per 25,000 miles.

“When you take into consideration our office puts on more than 400,000 patrol miles in a year, our county could benefit from the use of ethanol,” he said.

But access to the fuel can be an issue. Because Bad Axe and Harbor Beach do not have ethanol stations, Hanson said those patrols vehicles that start out of Bad Axe and Harbor Beach will frequently be forced to use unleaded fuel.

“Our deputies are being encouraged to purchase ethanol if they are in the vicinity of an ethanol station and their vehicle could use fuel,” said Hanson. “It would be pointless to specifically drive several miles in order to just buy ethanol.”

Full Story

Propel Fuels Opens Station in Hometown of Redwood City, CA

Propel Fuels' Redwood City Location

Residents and passersthrough of CA’s Bay Area Peninsula have a new choice in fueling with the Grand Opening of Propel Fuels’ newest renewable fuel location in Redwood City, CA.

Home to Propel’s corporate headquarters, Redwood City’s strong sense of community, central location between San Francisco and San Jose and growing population of alternative fuel vehicles makes it an ideal partner for Propel’s Bay Area expansion.

“As a country, we face a lot of pretty serious challenges. And most of us as individuals can’t really impact those big problems,” said Propel CEO Matt Horton. “One of the most important of those is our nation’s dependence on petroleum. All you have to do is look at the price of gasoline to see how big of an impact that has on our country and our economy. One of the challenges for consumers is that it’s not really their fault because we’ve never really had choices at the pump, people haven’t been able to put anything in their vehicles other than petroleum. With this grand opening, we’re very excited to show consumers there is something we can do today to start to decrease our dependence on petroleum.”

Representatives from San Mateo County and the City of Redwood City brought out their own alternative fuel vehicles, include a City of Redwood City Flex Fuel police cruiser, to help celebrate the station opening.

One of Redwood City's own Flex Fuel police cruisers pulls up for the Inaugural Fill

Propel CEO Matt Horton thanks Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira

“You can see as soon as you come into Redwood City that it’s something we strive for: to be very environmental, to be very green — and to have this station here is very, very exciting for us,” said Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira. “Propel is a dynamic leader, and we’re really looking forward to having more stations, and certainly having more stations here in Redwood City as well.”

Added Karen Schkolnick of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, “When you consider that over 40% of air pollution and 50% of green house gases in this region come from the transportation sector, you begin to understand the huge health and global climate benefits can be derived from alternative fuels.” She continued, “That is why it is great to be here with Propel for the launch of this station, and hopefully many more in the Bay Area.”

As with all its CA stations, Propel’s Redwood City location offers both Flex Fuel E85 (an ethanol-based fuel compatible with all “Flex Fuel” vehicles) and Biodiesel (compatibile with all diesel vehicles).

To see more coverage from Tuesday’s event, be sure to visit Domestic Fuel online and The San Francisco Business Times, or visit Propel Fuels  to learn more about advantages, compatibility and availability of renewable fuels.

Car buyers get efficient. Diesel sales up 46% as gas climbs.

According to a recent report by Baum and Associates, diesels, hybrids and smaller vehicles are selling like hotcakes–sales have surpassed the rest of the auto industry’s overall growth for the first quarter of 2011.

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

The sales of diesel vehicles soared up by 46% compared to March of last year.  Gasoline prices are to blame according to Baum. As pump prices continue to climb, the superior fuel efficiency of diesel engines is attracting attention. And the best part about driving a diesel? Using clean, American-made biodiesel to power your ride. Learn more about running biodiesel.

Baum stresses: “The trends are clear: vehicle sales are strong, and consumers want hybrids, small cars and crossovers, and are shying away from pickups and SUVs.”

Source: Baum & Associates, Green Car Congress, Autoblog Green.

Ethanol Producer Magazine: Propel discusses fueling infrastructure’s role in reducing petroleum imports

Earlier this month. President Obama announced a a goal to reduce petroleum imports by one-third by 2025. As reported by Ethanol Producer Magazine, Propel Fuels discusses the role of fueling infrastructure in President Obama’s plan.

“The key to both fleet usage of the fuels and meeting President Obama’s goals is infrastructure,” Propel CEO Matt Horton is quoted as saying in the article. “We’ve got the vehicles today for high blend ethanol, we just need more incentive to build out the infrastructure and we’ll be there.”

To check out the full story, visit Ethanol Producer Magazine. Curious if you can help offset imported petroleum by filling with E85? Visit Propel’s Flex Fuel Vehicles page online, or find a Clean Fuel Point near you.

VW to Offer Beetle TDI for 2012

If you’ve been following news regarding the new 2012 Beetle, you may have already heard rumor that the updated styling will echo that of the first generation “bug.” New to us, however, was learning that this retro-inspired ride will now be available with a 2.0L TDI engine – great news for Beetle bums, MPG mavens (VW is touting an estimated 40 mpg highway!) and biodiesel diehards alike.

Stylewise, the 2012 Beetle doesn’t disappoint. With a lower profile and a front windshield that’s been nudged back a bit, the Beetle does more closely resemble its 1949 predecessor, while a standard rear spolier, split-folding rear seat and slightly larger footprint offer modern day form and function.

As announced at the 2011 New York and Shanghai Auto Shows this week, the 2012  Beetle will be available in the US in September.

For more information, images and video, check out the full story at Insideline.com.

“I believe in biodiesel because…”

Why do you believe in biodiesel? As this montage of video testimonials compiled by the National Biodiesel Board demonstrates, there are countless reasons to stand behind this renewable fuel. Biodiesel is clean. Sustainable. Green. American. It supports the domestic economy and creates green jobs. It’s the fuel the diesel engine was designed around. And according to biodiesel enthusiasts, the list goes on!

Do you believe in biodiesel? Let us know by sharing your comment, below — or, to learn more, including where you can find biodiesel near you, vist Propel Fuels or the National Biodiesel Board online.

USDA visits Propel, highlights 10,000 pump plan

Judith Canales, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), stopped by Propel Fuels’ Oakland, California location to promote access to renewable fuel. Administrator Canales highlighted the beneficial economic and environmental impacts of American-produced biofuels.

Administrator Canales emphasized that a thriving domestic fuel industry will benefit the US economy. “The USDA is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America and we believe a strong renewable fuels industry, including convenient access to these fuels, is critical to this goal,” said Canales.

The USDA plans to increase access to domestically produced fuels by helping to fund the build out of 10,000 renewable fuel pumps across the country over the next five years. Retailers selected to receive USDA funds have yet to be determined.

“Propel shares the USDA’s vision for quickly increasing consumer access to renewable fuels in order to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, boost local economies, and reduce emissions,” said Jim Iacoponi, Vice President of Operations of Propel. “Through a partnership between private investment and public funds, Propel will continue to build the critical link between California’s drivers and the next generation of fuels.”

More on Administrator Canales’ visit to Propel:

Diesel Hybrids Combine the Best of Both Worlds

Geneva Motor Show – Does the future of clean transportation ride on renewable fuels or electric power? As we at Propel maintain — and as these new beauties, debuted this week at the Geneva Motor Show, demonstrate — the answer can most certainly be both. The diesel hybrid dazzlers featured below can be powered by renewable biodiesel and electricity.

Range Rover Sport Plug-In Diesel Hybrid

While there’s no word yet on whether the Range_e is intended for production, Land Rover has confirmed that this unique offering is part of its 2008 plan to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2012. Impressively, the SUV can travel up to 20 miles in full electric mode and returns 88mpg and 88 grams of CO2/kilometer. Power comes from both a 3.0-liter 240-horsepower TDV6  and a 69 kW electric motor that can be recharged from a standard household power supply in <4 hours.

Peugeot 908 Hybrid 4

So it’s not your daily driver. But with its 3.7-liter, 550-horsepower diesel V8 — and an on-board electric motor  that uses regenerative braking technology to provide an extra 80-horsepower spurt — Peugeot’s new endurance racer certainly inspires wide appeal. Will it be ready for the 2012 LeMans racing season? If so, Peugeot claims that the clean-burning, hybrid diesel technology will allow the 908 to stay on track longer than the average LeMans vehicle. Less pitting, more winning!

Volvo V60 Plug-In Diesel Hybrid

Who doesn’t love a sports wagon? Better yet, who doesn’t love a good looking safety machine with a diesel engine, a plug-in rechargeable electric powertrain and electric AWD? With the V60 Plug-In Hybrid, Volvo delivers all that, and more. In fact, a press release from the automaker claims the V60 Hybrid to be “three cars in one”:

1) An electric car with a range of up to 32 miles (charging time is 5 or less hours at home)
2) A high-efficiency hybrid with carbon dioxide emissions averaging just 49 g/km
3) A dynamic and engaging car with a combined output of 215 + 70 horsepower, 440 + 200 Nm of torque and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph of just 6.9 seconds

While the standard V60 is available only in European markets, Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby hinted in January that the V60 Hybrid could make its way to the US. Only time will tell. Until then, we’ll keep our fingers crossed!