Filed under: Cars + Transport, Energy + Climate, Food + Health, Science + Tech, Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: algae, biodiesel, biofuel, Brian Pierce, Cannonball Run, carbon footprint, ethenol, Nik Bristow, Willie Nelson, Willie Run
“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again,” sang Willie Nelson in one of his most iconic songs.
As Americans, automotive transportation is vital to our way of life. But our dependency on oil can produce detrimental consequences on the environment.
In September 2008 my brother Nik Bristow and Brian Pierce drove non-stop from Manhattan to Santa Monica, establishing the record for the first and fastest coast-to-coast run by a biodiesel-powered car. The cross-country drive took 38 hours and 37 minutes, fast enough for the duo to have placed fifth in the 1971 Cannonball Run. The record setting event was dubbed “Willie Run ‘08” in honor of the patron saint of biodiesel, Willie Nelson.
Are biofuels the way of the future?
Ethanol production has increased massively in the past decade, thanks to government subsidies. But the corn used to produce this fuel, in turn, has had a tremendous effect on global food prices.
Biodiesel, like ethanol, can be derived from food crops, it can also be made from used oils (like those found in a deep-fat-fryer at almost any restaurant.) Many restaurants are more than content on having their grease-traps cleaned out for free, but our nation’s automobiles obviously can’t run on grease alone.
The next generation of biofuels may come from algae. Large, green ponds are used to grow algae that can then be converted into fuel. Algae, which grow rapidly, are rich with natural oils and thrive on CO2. It can be housed adjacent to carbon dioxide emitting industrial sites, like coal-fired power plants and be used to minimize those sites’ carbon footprint.
The future of our energy consumption will rely primarily on renewable resources. It is our conversion over from fossil fuels that will be one the most daunting challenges we, as a planet, will have to face.
Photo credit: willierun.com
Video credit: youtube.com
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