Algae Fueled Motorcycle Breaks Speed Record
Sitting on my desk at work is a tiny little orb of glass filled with water, a piece of coral, some algae and a handful of tiny shrimp like creatures. It was an impulse buy that I got off one of those discount coupon sites randomly one day. You see, I can't keep a plant alive because, unless it screams at me to water it, I let it die and, even if I could remember to consistently give it hydration, nothing could survive in the dismal florescent lighting of the office anyway. But this tiny little orb brags that it is completely self sustaining (so needs no water from little ol' me) and needs almost no natural light. This, I can not kill.
But what is my point and what the heck does it have to do with motorcycles? It's the algae. Until I saw how important that algae was to those tiny shrimp's ecosphere I never though of algae as anything other than that nasty crap that you try to avoid while swimming in the lake. But Kristian Gustavson and his team of University of California, San Diego (UCSD) students have found another use for algae even cooler than that of my desktop ornament. They've used it to fuel a motorcycle that can hit a whopping 99 MPH.
As a recent graduate of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation's MAS program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (talk about a mouthful), Gustavson started the One-Barrel for Baja Project in order to synthesize enough algal biodiesel using a blend of 50% algae and 50% UCSD cooking oil waste to compete in the speed trials at the Baja 1000 Race this coming fall.
Earlier last month, however, Gustavson took the bike for a test ride at the El Mirage Dry Lake Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area near Adelanto, California. It was there that he was able to get his unique turbo-charged diesel-powered 800cc Track Motorcycle manufactured in Holland to hit a record breaking 99 MPH. The previous record was set in 2011 and was merely 56 MPH; not nearly enough to keep you on the California Highways if ever considered an actual alternative fuel option.
With gas prices souring to a whopping $5.00 a gallon and promising to continue to rise over the summer, alternative energy scientists have been scrambling to try and find new ways to keep us on the roads. Electric motorcycles have become the most popular and most developed idea thus far with companies such as Zero and Brammo selling electric motorcycles to consumers already. Other inventers have looked into harnessing the power of CO2 as an option but the concept is still in its infancy. With Gustavson managing to power his motorcycle to hit 99 MPH with nothing but a biodiesel mixture of algae and cooking oil waste, it may be a concept to keep an eye on. Just don't come knocking to see if you can use my desktop pets' algae. I've kept them alive for three whole days and I intend to keep that streak rolling.
Check out some photo's of the algae to biodiesel process: