Nature lovers have a formidable ally in the world of motoring, in the form of Volkswagen AG. Just today, the automaker announced the successful completion of a two-year test of renewable diesel fuels. The cars used in testing were the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and Passat TDI, each of which continuously ran renewable diesel biofuels made by Solazyme, Inc. and Amyris, Inc.
Plant-derived fuels represent an intriguing and promising alternative to those made from crude oil; Solazyme’s commercial renewable diesel blend uses oils produced by microalgae – what the company calls “the world’s original oil producer.” Amyris, meanwhile, produces a renewable diesel fuel made from plant sugar. Over a collective 134,000 miles and two years of operation, each of the four 2012 Volkswagen TDI models tested displayed performance similar to that offered by crude oil-based diesel fuel, along with similar or improved fuel economy, and no engine error codes or catastrophic mechanical failures.
What’s even more impressive? Both Solazyme and Amyris claim that overall greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by more than 50 percent by using renewable diesel fuels like those tested.
Speaking about the success of Volkswagen’s two-year Renewable Diesel Evaluation Program, Volkswagen America’s Electronics Research Laboratory Executive Director Ewald Goessmann said: “The successful completion of this collaboration with two leaders in renewable fuels and products highlights how far advanced fuel technology has come in recent years, proving that sustainable fuels… can offer similar performance and lower emissions from a well-to-wheel perspective when compared with commercially available crude-based fuels.
“Evaluations like this are part of Volkswagen’s broader holistic environmental strategy which underscores the company’s commitment to the environment by deploying a comprehensive approach which addresses carbon reduction and sustainability at each part of the vehicle lifecycle.”