Is the biofuel craze of a few years ago really dead? This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Pat Gruber, thinks not. While plummeting oil prices may have flattened the appeal of biofuel in the auto industry, the air travel industry’s interest appears to be just taking off. Gruber’s company, Gevo, provided the fuel for the first corn-powered commercial passenger flight in U.S. history this month. We discuss his company’s technology, the competitive bio jetfuel landscape, and what feedstocks are likely to be used to power future flights. Then we dig into the Sea Change Radio archives to hear from longtime airline industry analyst Bob McAdoo. He breaks down airline pricing models that often leave travelers flummoxed.
When life gives you lemons they say to make lemonade. And what if life gives you sewage released into an enclosed bay, what can you make? Certainly not lemonade, right? Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is NASA scientist and UC Santa Cruz professor, Jonathan Trent. He has figured out how to use algae to turn wastewater pollution into biofuel. This ambitious project, called Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae (or OMEGA) not only places algae where it can consume waste and excrete oils for fuel, it also creates spaces for low-impact aquaculture, captures CO2, and cleans pollutants out of bays.
The technology also converts wastewater to drinking water, which, with a little lemon and sugar could even be used to make, you guessed it, lemonade. Listen now as host Alex Wise talks with Dr. Trent, an inventor, pioneer, and visionary whose OMEGA project offers hope for fuel, food, water, and a cleaner world.
Ask an environmentally aware friend of yours what they think about ethanol and the response will probably be negative. Critics of this long-established biofuel will say that it’s not a viable long-term replacement for petroleum-based fuels, that it competes with food production by diverting corn, that it’s hard to store, doesn’t travel well, or doesn’t go to the more underlying problem of over-consumption. But how did most of us reach this conclusion? Who made these drawbacks to ethanol part of conventional wisdom?
This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, filmmaker, Josh Tickell, offers a different perspective. Tickell recently completed a documentary film titled Freedom that presents ethanol as a solution to this country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Host Alex Wise asks him how his thinking on this subject changed so dramatically since his last highly-acclaimed documentary, Fuel, and find out more about why he believes in ethanol’s potential as a clean alternative.
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 host, Alex Wise, how his company uses gut bacterium E. Coli’s digestion capabilities (which have been around for billions of years) to convert sugar to biofuels and chemicals. The LS9 interview ends asking, where can we drivers actually get these biofuels? That’s the question that Karri Ving, Biofuel Coordinator for SFGreasecycle, seeks to answer. The program diverts fryer oil from being dumped in San Francisco’s sewers to turn it into biofuels that power the city’s entire diesel fleet.
Sea Change Radio West Coast Correspondent Alex Wise interviews Moira DeNike about fueling a 1985 Mercedes 300 Diesel on waste vegetable oil (or WVO). Sea Change Co-Host Kelsey Flynn talks to Ric Sustache of Greasecar, which sells kits to convert diesel cars to run on WVO, as well as Laura Douglass, whose experience as a WVO car driver differs in interesting ways from Moira’s. And Sea Change Host Bill Baue speaks with Michael Aronson about ReRun Sports Shoes, the company he co-founded to collect lightly used shoes and sell them in Guinea, Mali, Congo, Liberia, and Niger, Africa.