Front page of Issue 16

The winter 2015 print edition is in stores now. Special report on the persistence of segregation in local public schools. Plus: 24-page insert commemorating the now shuttered weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, produced by the newspaper’s former staff.

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Algae Fuel Comes to the Bay Area, but How Ecological Is It?

By Laird Harrison, KQED News Fix

To the list of things that started in the Bay Area (blue jeans, sourdough French bread, fortune cookies), you can now add automobile fuel made by algae.

Last week, four service stations in Oakland, San Jose, Berkeley and Redwood City became the first in the world to pump the fuel, which is blended with conventional diesel in a 20 percent concentration.

Other companies are working on algae fuels as well. This is a bioreactor being developed by OriginOil scientists.

We were excited when we heard the news. It’s great to be first, after all. But we also wondered why anyone would want fuel made from algae.

The fuel has a couple of advantages, said Robert Ames, a vice president at Solazyme, the South San Francisco company that makes it.

When burned, the fuel gives off 30 percent less particulate matter, 20 percent less carbon monoxide and 10 percent less hydrocarbons than ultra-low sulfur conventional diesel, he said.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix