Here be dragons for alternative fuel drivers

Government mapping tool shows where alternative fuel facilities begin and end in the U.S.

The National Renewable Energy Lab and U.S. Department of Energy have launched a mapping tool on alternative fuels and vehicles.

Employing Google Maps, TransAtlas plots geographical locations of things like specific types of fuel stations and concentrations where certain types of alternative fuel vehicles are owned in abundance.

It plots points where production facilities and other infrastructure for alternative fuel transportation exist, as well as separate icons identifying projects under development.

The comprehensive tool allows users to turn layers on and off by checking boxes in a legend. It includes alternative fuels like hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, propane, compressed natural gas, E85, biodiesel, and electric charging stations

Layers are also used to see vehicle density for flex fuel, diesel, and hybrid electric vehicles, as well as production facilities for hydrogen and ethanol.

The TransAtlas lets you ask a specific site for more detailed information by hitting the query button and then clicking on a point of interest. One click can tell you the town where an ethanol production facility is located, what capacity it's operating at, and what kind of biomass it uses.

The tool's development was sponsored by the DOE's Vehicle Technologies Program, which includes the Clean Cities initiative, a program to encourage alternative fuel development and public/private partnerships on alternative fuel projects.

National Renewable Energy Lab's map showing hydrogen production facilities in the U.S. Google Maps
Tech Culture
About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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