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Algae-based biofuel goes on sale in San Francisco Bay Area

Biodiesel B20 — made from 20 percent algae and 80 percent petroleum — is being trialled in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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The Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial that is full of algae after recently being filled with water, on September 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/AFP/Getty Images)

Algae-based biofuel is now on tap in America — with motorists in the San Francisco Bay Area becoming the first motorists in the nation to fill up their tanks.

The fuel, known as Biodiesel B20 — made from 20 percent algae and 80 percent petroleum — went on sale Tuesday at gas stations in Berkeley, Oakland, Redwood City and San Jose, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Alternative gas station chain Propel is reportedly trialling the fuel for a month, selling "Soladiesel" alongside Propel's normal diesel.

It was being sold for about $4.25 a gallon at the Redwood City station on Wednesday, which is the average price for diesel fuel in California.

Matt Horton, chief executive officer of Propel Fuels, said at a Valero station in Redwood City:

"We are putting a stake in the ground. We hope to build hundreds of stations like this in California."

According to NBC, algae has long been proposed as an alternative to corn in producing biofuels.

The Associated Press writes that algae has been used in trials by the military and industrial companies.

Algae when fed certain sugars produce combustible oils that can be used as fuel additives, and the resulting biodiesel produces less pollutants.

The algae-based fuel's creator, South San Francisco-based Solazyme, claims that in some ways it actually perform better.

Biodiesel B20 can be used by any vehicle that runs on diesel.

Horton said most diesel engines could run on 100 percent algae fuel, but that it would cost more, however many automakers opposed allowing a mix higher than 20 percent.

A recent article in Mining Australia called biofuel the "life blood of the mining industry," that could both save company money and reduce emissions.

The article pointed out that:

The world’s future energy needs and how to best tackle the expected rise in the world’s population of nine billion people by 2050 was a key topic at Shell’s Technology Forum this year.

Solazyme, which according to NBC is building a biofuel plant in Brazil, plans to commercialize the fuel next year.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121114/algae-based-biofuel-biodiesel-b20-gas-prices-soladiesel-us-military