Toyota Motor Corporation has teamed up with Hino Motors Ltd. and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. to test out a biodiesel formulation on the Hino Blue Ribbon City Hybrid buses in Japan. The diesel-electric hybrid transit buses will be powered by a Shell-formulated gas-to-liquid (GTL) Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel. The GTL is then combined with renewable hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), forming a biodiesel product that's suitable for use in the Hino hybrid buses.
I don't like the wording in Slate's headline for this great story on the Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquid process (is it really "one of the world's most exciting new fuel sources"? Is it really even new if it was developed in the 1920s?), but I still encourage you to read the story. The world is a complicated place, and Daniel Gross' investigation of how Fischer-Tropsch moved from Nazi synthfuel to the fuel of choice for South Africa's state run energy company emphasizes this. The company, Sasol,
One of the possible avenues for reducing our dependence on imported oil is to convert coal in to diesel fuel. The Fischer-Tropsch process, which is a nearly century old chemical technique for converting coal in to liquid fuels, has been significantly improved by researchers at Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even though standard Fischer-Tropsch is generally considered too expensive to compete with oil, the improved method produces a cleaner burning diesel