Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Sasol Chevron GTL Challenge

I've been meaning to write about this ongoing event for some time: think of it as The Amazing Race meets alternative fuel:
A team of twelve men and women are taking the Sasol Chevron GTL Challenge to complete an 10,157 km journey from South Africa to Qatar, through eight countries and some of the toughest conditions on the planet, to arrive in Doha for the official opening of the ground-breaking ORYX gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant.

One of the team's five vehicles, a standard Toyota Hilux Raider, dubbed African Renaissance, is being fuelled from beginning to end with neat GTL diesel fuel from Sasol's plant at Sasolburg.
And what is neat GTL Diesel?
GTL diesel is a natural-gas derived fuel. It is not derived from crude oil but is manufactured using a synthetic process. It's efficient premium high-performance characteristics are fundamentally redefining environmental performance in terms of urban emissions and air quality.
The GTL Challenge team has been moving up the African continent for just over a month now, and has made it to the Middle Eastern peninsula. This is certainly a cool idea for promoting GTL diesel, and I can certainly see some benefits of using this fuel in certain settings, particularly urban ones. At the same time, I'd have to think that this is only a transitional technology, as natural gas supplies are peaking in many parts of the world. We definitely need cleaner transitional fueling solutions for our transportation needs -- I hope that Sasol Chevron is also looking beyond such technologies to much greener solutions, though.

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