Sustainable Marine Fuels Begin Rolling Out with Pilot Program in Florida

Sustainable Marine Fuels

Photo from L-R: Jess Hewitt, Hyperfuels; Jeff Wasil, NMMA; Gus Blakely, Suzuki Marine USA; Jason Stimmel, Suzuki Marine USA; Daiki Sugiura, Suzuki Marine USA; Dr. Daniel Pourreau, Lyondellbassell Industries; Josh Street, City Commissioner St. Andrews; Jonathan Hayes, City Manager, City of Panama City; Patrick Rowe, SC Rowe; Brian Hamilton, Manager of St. Andrews Marina.

July 9, 2024

July 2nd, 2024, NMMA, alongside partners Suzuki Marine, Hyperfuels and LyondellBasell, held an event to launch the first-ever pilot program for sustainable marine fuels at St. Andrews Marina in Panama City, FL, on the heels of new research investigating the porfolio of technologies to further reduce the 0.1% of global carbon emissions from recreational boating. The pilot program makes new high-performance, 93 octane, ethanol-free premium gasoline available to boaters for the first time at a local marina. 

Because of the variety of diverse boat types and their varied use cases, recent research shows there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to reduce carbon emissions in recreational boat propulsion. However, with an estimated 12 million recreational boats on the water today in the U.S. and with recreational boats having a lifespan of as many as 50 years, sustainable marine fuels can provide immediate carbon emissions reductions from existing boat propulsion systems. Sustainable marine fuels are made from cooking oil waste, animal fats, plant-based materials and other green refining methods and can be “dropped in” to powerboat engines without changes or modifications to the current fuel systems. 

“As an industry, we’re continually looking at innovative solutions that enhance the boating experience for our country’s nearly 100 million boaters who turn to the water for wellness, adventure and connection to the outdoors.,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of NMMA. “Today is a major milestone in our collective industry efforts to make sustainable marine fuels available to boaters and begin to explore how working in partnership with government, we can bring new technologies to market that advance our commitment to the boating public.”

Beginning in July, Purfuels™ gasoline, a partially renewable gasoline produced by Hyperfuels, will be available at St. Andrews Marina in Panama City, Fla. Florida is the number one boating state in the U.S., with more than one million registered boats and generating $31 billion for the state’s economy annually. The pilot program, in partnership with Suzuki Marine, a multinational mobility manufacturer, will help identify the process and systems needed to ship, store and distribute sustainable marine fuels, so this information can help shape distribution models around the country and globe. 

“Unlike current fuel distribution systems, which handle hundreds of millions of gallons by pipeline or barge, small quantities of fuel require rail or truck transportation and local storage at distribution sites,” said Jeff Wasil, senior director of environmental, health and safety compliance for NMMA. “These additional costs can add $0.25 to $1.00 per gallon, depending on the location of the marina relative to the local fuel distribution site. These sustainable marine fuels have been optimized specifically for use in recreational boats which provide many benefits to the boating consumer such as higher performance, higher octane, more stable storage without phase-separation, and reduced carbon emissions.”

Hyperfuels has been focused on the development of sustainable marine fuels in Texas for several years, first with renewable isobutanol and now with IDEAL EMP from LyondellBasell. IDEAL EMP is a non-alcohol, high-octane blendstock with renewable content, for the ethanol-free gasoline market. Purfuels™ will be distributed by SC Rowe, a locally owned fuel business, with three generations of service to the Panama City area. This specific formulation of Purfuels™ reduces CO2 emissions by up to 30% more than E10 fuels at the same renewable content and is a first step in reducing carbon emissions from recreational boating. Future fuels, such as synthetic or e-fuels, have the potential to become fully carbon neutral. 

“The City of Panama City is honored to be the first marina in the state of Florida offering a high-performance ethanol-free, sustainable marine fuel,” said Jonathan Hayes, city manager of Panama City. “We are excited to be on the cutting edge of the recreational boating industry’s continued emission reduction efforts alongside our partners in the public and private sectors. We are privileged to have such a great community partner like Suzuki Marine.”

“Sustainable marine fuels have incredible potential to further reduce emissions and lower the environmental impact of recreational boating across the nation,” said Brandon Cerka, general manager of sales and marketing for Suzuki Marine. “The key lies in making these fuels more accessible to the boating public at local marinas and fuel docks. For many months, we’ve been working with local fuel distributors SC Rowe, LyondellBassell, Hyperfuels, and St. Andrews Marina to make this possible. This is a great day for boaters in the Florida Panhandle. We’re hopeful this will help create a groundswell of interest across Florida and eventually nationwide.” 

For the past 20 years, NMMA and industry partners have reduced U.S. recreational boating emissions by more than 90% and increased fuel efficiency by more than 40%. As part of the global recreational marine industry’s work to further decarbonize, the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) released findings from their Pathways to Propulsion Decarbonisation for the Recreational Marine Industry research and launched the Propelling Our Future educational initiative in 2023, which aims to raise awareness of the variety of technology solutions needed to continue to reduce boating emissions in the future.

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