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Fill 'Er Up: On biofuels


In This Series

  • Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla chats about the promise of ethanol

    Venture capitalist and ethanol booster Vinod Khosla. Billionaires are piling onto the biofuels bandwagon. Bill Gates is doing it. Richard Branson is doing it. The Google guys are doing it. Less well-known is the billionaire who kicked off the whole trend: Vinod Khosla, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems and former partner with Kleiner Perkins, the […]

  • Three perspectives on the biofuels debate

    Imagine how amazing petroleum must have seemed back when it was an emerging alternative fuel in the U.S. Drill a hole in the ground in some parts of Texas and Pennsylvania, and rich black stuff would come gushing up, loaded with energy. What could possibly be the problem with such bounty? In some quarters, biofuels […]

  • An interview with David Pimentel

    Any worthy idea can withstand and even be improved by naysayers; scolds and skeptics play the useful role of pointing out obvious flaws. The biofuels industry has no more persistent, articulate, and scathing critic than David Pimentel, professor emeritus of entomology at Cornell University. David Pimentel. Photo: Chris Hallman / Cornell University Photography. In 1979, […]

  • A handy biofuels glossary, and videos to boot

    With all the talk of biofuels swirling around, things can get a bit confusing. So we’ve put together this handy glossary for your reference. Now you can pontificate at cocktail parties with the best of ’em. And just to keep you awake (yeah, we remember second grade too), we’ve included some explanatory videos thanks to […]

  • Richard Branson chats about embracing ethanol and slashing airplane emissions

    Does a music mogul who signed the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson have what it takes to make a pop star out of biofuels? Sir Richard. Earlier this fall, publicity-chasing British entrepreneur Richard Branson made a $3 billion bet that he could do just that — and help solve the climate crisis to boot — […]

  • An interview with Seattle biodiesel distributor Dan Freeman

    Dan Freeman. As a kid, Dan Freeman experimented with using alcohol to run lawnmowers and minibikes. (Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that parent-son conversation.) These days, he runs Dr. Dan’s Alternative Fuel Werks, a Seattle-based biodiesel retail and distribution company with customers ranging from school districts to organic farmers to […]

  • Using grease and other goodies, small biodiesel producers are making a big difference

    If you live in a city of any size, you’ve likely seen them out there: boxy little ’80s-era foreign cars, bumpers adorned with pro-ecology and anti-war slogans, and references to “grease.” Even the fumes they emit may smell different: literally like French fries, in some cases; like generic used vegetable oil in others. Foh sizzle […]

  • How cash and corporate pressure pushed ethanol to the fore

    … got all liquored on that road house corn … — Tom Waits, “Gun Street Girl” Before it became widely used as a car fuel, ethanol was just grain liquor — and the federal government was not particularly kind to it. We pledge allegiance to ADM. Shortly after the American Revolution, the new government imposed […]

  • The what, where, and why of E85 ethanol

    If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve probably heard of E85 — yet don’t have the slightest idea what it is. Or if you do have an idea, it’s, well, slight. But never fear, friends and neighbors: We’ve got the skinny on the corn-a-rific fuel that’s increasingly on the tips of tongues and in […]