Brewing Biofuel from E. Coli — and Fill Er Up with Yellow Grease

Bill Haywood
Robin Gold and Tofu Pup

Producing biofuel is kind of like brewing beer, a practice that’s been around since the Phoenicians and Egyptians first fermented things, according to Bill Haywood, CEO of the San Francisco-based company LS9.  He explains to Sea Change Radio West Coast Correspondent Alex Wise how his company uses E. Coli‘s digestion capabilities (which have been around for billions of years) to convert sugar to biofuels and chemicals.  Next, Alex speaks with Robin Gold, co-founder of Dogpatch Biofuels, a filling station in San Francisco where drivers can gas up on “yellow grease,” or waste vegetable oil.

Bill Haywood describes how LS9, which calls itself a “renewable petroleum company” whose acrronym stands for “Life Sciences Company Number 9,” has recently announced breakthroughs in its ability to make cellulosic-derived, advanced biofuels. A collaborative team of researchers from LS9, the University of California at Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a microbe that can produce an advanced biofuel directly from cellulosic biomass in a one-step process.

Haywood discusses LS9’s sustainable chemicals partnership with Procter & Gamble to help the huge consumer products company reduce the carbon footprint of its products.  He also describes the demonstration production facility in Florida that LS9 recently acquired.

The LS9 interview ends asking, where can we drivers actually get these biofuels?  That’s the question that Dogpatch Biofuels seeks to answer.  Alex caught up with Dogpatch Co-Founder Robin Gold to hear about their solution.  Her partner Michele Swiggers couldn’t be there, but their dog, Tofu Pup, could.  Gold and Swiggers are both trained physicists with day jobs at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Alex started by asking Robin to explain about the fuel Dogpatch sells — “yellow grease,” or recycled cooking oil — and the interview ends with her describing Dogpatch’s partnership with SF Greasecycle, an innovative grease recycling program.