Despite the best efforts of Republicans in Congress, the U.S. military really wants biofuels. If the Pentagon ever gets its way, that kind of massive purchasing power could revolutionize the biofuel industry, providing the demand needed for producers to ramp up production and lower costs.
That’s a far cry from the early days of the most recent biodiesel boom, in which hippies like Josh Tickell went one fast food restaurant to the next, sucking back fry grease to fuel his diesel van. With America clearly at the mercy of big oil as well as fighting two wars in the Middle East, Tickell took a cross-country vegetable diesel road trip in 2004 to spread the fried gospel of biofuels.
The biofuel industry has come a long way from filtering and burning old grease, with cellulosic and algal fuels that are miles more high tech than grease or fermented corn. Back in 2009, in one of the earliest videos produced by Motherboard, our own Eddy Moretti met up with Tickell, who’d jumped into the algal biofuel game, to talk the future of fuel. Thankfully for all the hippies and military men alike, biofuels may mean our post-oil future won’t also see the disappearance of vans and tanks.
Follow Derek Mead on Twitter: @derektmead.