Singapore's first biodiesel-powered luxury limousine fleet was launched yesterday, using technology developed by a local renewable energy company. Alpha Biofuels announced yesterday that it had struck a three-year deal to provide The Westin Singapore with its Green Luxury limousine fleet, which will be powered by waste cooking oil from the hotel's kitchen.

Alpha is also partnering Wearnes Automotive, the official distributor of the Jaguar brand of cars in Singapore, for this breakthrough project as the luxury fleet will use two Jaguar XJ sedans.

The deal will see the hotel collect waste cooking oil from its kitchen and process it weekly in a micro-refinery that Alpha will set up in Westin's carpark beginning next month. The biofuel will then be transferred to a portable fuel pump in the loading bay of the hotel, where the Jaguar limousines will fill its tanks.

The Westin hotel, which is newly opened in Singapore's Marina Bay, generates about 7,800 kg of waste cooking oil in a year, which is expected to produce enough biodiesel to help power the two Jaguar limousines over the estimated 150,000 km that the hotel expects them to cover each year.

Biodiesel will initially account for about 7 per cent of the total fuel that the cars will use although there is a possibility of this increasing over time. Allan Lim, CEO of Alpha, said that this amount has been set for the pilot run as the Jaguar Land Rover engineers in the UK want to monitor the long-term impact on the engines.

Mr Lim said that he was confident that his company can work with the engineers to increase this proportion as there are no long-term implications. All of Alpha's vehicles have been operating 100 per cent on biodiesel for some years now, he noted.

Alpha is no stranger to the biofuels market, having used biodiesel five years ago, generated from 500 tonnes of waste cooking oil, to power the cranes that constructed the Asia Square Tower 2, where the Westin hotel is located.

The company has invested more than $2 million since 2009 to develop this technology to convert waste fuel to biodiesel at its refinery in Tuas. It had collected about four to five tonnes of waste cooking oil per day from about 300 recycling partners it had acquired.

Alpha has partnered A*Star and other local research institutes to refine its technology for this project. It is optimistic about the potential of the biodiesel market in Singapore and the region.

Mr Lim said that it is able to extract about 900 ml of biodiesel from every litre of waste cooking oil that Alpha refines. It estimates that about 1,000 tonnes of waste cooking oil can be extracted in Singapore each month.

Biodiesel is about 15 per cent cheaper than pump prices of diesel. Mr Lim is confident that by refining its technology, it can sell at even lower prices.

From an environmental point of view, one kg of Alpha biodiesel used produces 65 per cent, or 4.11 kg, less greenhouse gases over its life cycle and emit 95 per cent less particulate matter compared to ultra low sulphur diesel, according to research conducted by A*Star.

Alpha plans to expand into the region and has established a micro-refinery in Jakarta. In Singapore, it is in talks with other service companies to expand its biodiesel fleet to 20 by August.