Editor’s note: This is the third of 10 profiles provided by the North Carolina Technology Association highlighting its newest Beacon Award category, Ten Startups to Watch. The companies will be recognized during the organization’s November 6th NC Technology Awards Gala. This profile of Blue Gas Marine appeared in ExitEvent, a news partner of WRAL TechWire.

APEX, N.C. - Blue Gas Marine, Inc. has found a cleaner and more affordable way to power boats: natural gas.

The Apex-based company makes natural gas hybrid fuel systems that can be installed on existing gasoline and diesel engines, and then, just like HP does with ink, it’ll sell you that gas.

Aptly-named Blue Gas Marine is the first company of its kind in the United States, and therefore has that first-mover advantage. But it’s not just about positioning—this company actually found that perfect silver bullet, offering a cleaner environment while saving boaters actual cash.

“I started Blue Gas Marine because I love to boat and fish and wanted to make it greener and more affordable to do what I love,” says CEO and former NASA engineer Miguel Guerreiro, who debuts the technology at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this weekend. “Seeing the company come together and the support we get for our product makes all the long hours put into it, worth it.”

A Saver: Of Money and the Environment

Installed on existing or new outboard, inboard and generator engines, the system uses compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG) natural gas. The system can reduce fuel costs (by nearly 50%) and maintenance costs while make boating greener—in fact, the company claims that this switch can reduce boaters’ pollution by 70 to 90 percent. “Having zero-exhaust smoke and zero-exhaust odor is a big deal when you are around boats,” says Guerreiro. “Exhaust is unhealthy and unpleasant and, of course, a common pollution factor.”

The company markets its systems and fuel to frequent boat operators, such as commercial fishermen, charter boats, ferries, tugs, large ships, the military and recreational users. As expected, the greatest response is to the savings. A 32’ boat can cost more than $1350 to fill up with gasoline in the U.S., but only $625 when natural gas is used.

The full story can be read at ExitEvent.