A new source for biodiesel is making its debut at some San Francisco gas stations. Will algae be able to prove itself as a fuel alternative?
For years we’ve been hearing about the promise of crude oil derived from algae. In theory, it sounds
like the solution to our CO2-heavy gasoline habit: Algae requires very little land to grow (significantly less than most other biofuels), it’s cheap, and it’s abundant. But algae requires a lot of water to grow and scaling up fuel projects has been difficult for a variety of logistical reasons. Nonetheless, you can now get a side of algae fuel with your petroleum if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and drive a car with a diesel engine.
As of this week, a diesel fuel mix of 20% algae and 80% petroleum is available at four gas stations in Redwood City, San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland. Drivers can fill up at designated Propel Clean Fuel Points (alternative fuel stations often located inside traditional gas stations). The algae comes from Solazyme, a renewable algae oil company that is also making inroads in the cosmetics and food industries.