Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mark Edwards - Green Independence

Mark Edwards is a close friend of and a key strategic advisor to our Desert Biofuels Initiative effort. We're very pleased to be partnering with Mark to help him advance some components of his global "Green Independence" vision.

Mark is a professor in the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at ASU and the author of Biowar I -- which focuses on problems associated with corn ethanol, among other issues -- and Green Algae Strategy, which lays out a compelling vision for how algae can solve critical global fuel and food problems. We've found Mark's vision to be inspiring, and we're striving to implement aspects of his vision in an algae biofuels demonstration plant project we're exploring with Mark and a number of other team members.

Mark has generously agreed to allow us to post some documents he's authored that capture some of his thinking on Green Independence and related topics (all in .pdf):

Mark has also made available reviewer copies of his full Green Algae Strategy manuscript that we can provide electronically upon request (to brad-at-desertbiofuels-dot-org).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

DBI policy projects for Fall '08

(l-to-r) C. Thomson-Jones, P. Arambula, E. Menkhus (TVSG Director), S. Howe

Our relationship with ASU's Technology Ventures Services Group (formerly Technology Ventures Clinic) continues to be exciting and productive for DBI. This Fall we have three extremely talented students joining us, to work on two projects. The projects are:

1. A market analysis of biofuels feedstocks in Arizona, focusing on (a) waste vegetable oil, (b) region-suitable agricultural feedstocks, and (c) algae. The goal of the project is to gather facts about precisely what is happening in AZ in connection with these feedstocks (e.g. how much WVO is there? where is it currently going? what agricultural feedstocks looks promising for our region? etc.) . Our hope is that this sort of data will enable regional biofuel producers to make solid investment decisions and will help policymakers who are interested in advancing the regional production of biofuels. This project is an expansion and continuation of the project that we launched this past summer.

2. An analysis of state-level legislative initiatives aimed at promoting biofuels that have been enacted in other states. The goal of this project to accumulate data that may be helpful to Arizona policymakers interested in advancing the production of sustainable biofuels locally.

The students are:
  • Pete Arambula, a third year J.D. student with an M.A. in Physiological/Experimental Psychology and professional interests in biotech, health science, civil rights and sustainability.
  • Sarah Howe, a junior in the undergraduate chemical engineering program at ASU's Barrett Honors College. Sarah has biodiesel homebrewing experience and a deep interest in environmental engineering.
  • Carrie Thomson-Jones, a J.D. student and former entrepreneur and business owner. She brings deep business experience and savvy to our projects, plus has the additional incentive of hoping for success of our mission so that she can regularly run her VW TDI on biodiesel.
We've set up email addresses for each in the format "".

We're grateful to Eric Menkhus and the entire team at the Technology Ventures Services Group for all of their support.

Friday, September 5, 2008

US Fire Administration on Homemade Biodiesel

The US Fire Administration has posted portions of a "non-sensitive Situational Awareness Bulletin" regarding biodiesel production, specifically homemade biodiesel. Targeted at first responders, note that the bulletin includes the following:
"The overall process [of making biodiesel] is legal and relatively safe when properly performed."

It goes on to list some of the potential hazards, and notes:
"If the [home] processors are not careful, they can poison or burn themselves, and modifications to pressure vessels by inexperienced people can result in possible explosions."

Thanks to Hans Huth for the referral.