Sunday, October 2, 2011

Propel - New Way to Get Alternative Fuels

I was driving along in a familiar spot a couple of days ago and at the Valero gas station, I saw a little "mini station" at the corner with a green sign that read "Propel." Curious, I stopped in.

Propel is a new concept in supplying alternative fuels--biodiesel and E85 ethanol--to drivers. Rather than setting up their own stations, they lease a small area from existing stations and in partnership, offer the fuels in a separate, but very compact, "clean fuel point." For the established fuel provider, it's turnkey--they lease out the space and get a profit while Propel builds, supplies and maintains the mini station. This sounds like a brilliant idea. And Propel says that these clean fuel points are built in an environmentally sensitive way and with their small footprint, are highly efficient.

The station I visited was a few miles from my office, but when I took the information card from the rack on the spotless pump, I saw that there are several places to obtain the fuels not too far from my house, too. These other clean fuel points were partnered with 76 and Chevron stations, so dealers from at least three major oil companies are participating in this new idea.

Today, Propel offers plant-based E85 ethanol for flex-fuel vehicles that can run on this fuel as well as gasoline. They also offer biodiesel. The blend of fuel sold (5%, 20%, or 99%) varies depending on location. Any Diesel car can use 5% and the 20% blend is being promoted as usable by most Diesel cars. The full-strength fuel may require some preparation of your car, and some new Diesel vehicles may not be able to use it.

Propel is actively looking into future alternative fuels from waste, algae and other sources, too.

By making alternative fuels easily available at existing, familiar locations, Propel is helping to move us to toward the cleaner energy we need to improve the environment and reduce our dependency on imported oil.

The next time I'm driving a flex-fuel or Diesel car, I'm heading in!

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