Propel Fuels Renewable High-Performance Diesel Now Available in Northern California
Regional Rollout Is First Retail Availability in North America
The transition from traditional diesel fuel to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel in 2007 was a pivotal moment in the history and evolution of diesels, enabling more advanced, sophisticated fuel delivery and emissions control systems and leading to the first availability of 50-state-legal light diesels for many manufacturers. However, ULSD isn’t the end-all-be-all in the world of diesel fuels. Even stricter emissions standards are coming down the pike, and many engineers have said they believe we’ve reached the practical limit of mechanical means of cleaning up diesel emissions. The next step for cleaning up diesels will be cleaning up the fuel itself. To that end, Propel Fuels has announced the first retail availability of Neste Oil’s NEXBTL renewable diesel fuel, marketed as Propel HPR (high performance renewable) Diesel at 18 Propel Fuel California locations in Sacramento, San Jose, Redwood City, Fresno, and the East Bay region in the northern part of the state.
Although derived from renewable sources, the company stresses that its renewable diesel is not the same as biodiesel and in fact conforms to the same ASTM standard for ultra-low sulfur diesel, D975, as opposed to the established standard for biodiesel, which is ASTM D6751. HPR diesel has a cetane rating of 75, which the company claims is higher than conventional diesel or biodiesel. Unlike biodiesel, which can gel in cold climates, Propel claims excellent cold-weather performance.
Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels, said the pump blend that will be sold at the Northern California locations is essentially a “neat” (un-mixed) 98.5 percent blend. The maximum approved biodiesel blend for most manufacturers is B20, but Elam said those restrictions don’t apply to HPR since it conforms to the same standards as petroleum-based ultra-low sulfur diesel. The key difference between biodiesel and HPR is the refining process. Biodiesel utilizes a process known as transesterification, whereas HPR uses a hydro-fracturing process typically utilized with petroleum feedstocks. Because of the inherently lower sulfur content in the base feedstocks, the fuel is much cleaner that ULSD or B20.
Elam said the target price point will be roughly on par with ULSD prices in the area and customers can get real-time updates on fuel prices with the Propel Fuels app for iPhone or Android. For now, availability will be limited to Northern California, but Elam said he expected a Southern California rollout in the third or fourth quarter of 2015.
Source: Propel Fuels