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Algae-Fueled Motorcycle Sets Speed Record

Below the Surface’s “Driving Innovation” Team established the first official algae-fueled motorcycle speed records during The Texas Mile land speed event on March 24th, 2012. Team leader Kristian Gustavson reached 94.6 mph using a 50/50 blend of biodiesel derived from algae and cooking oil waste from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Fellow team member, Devin Chatterjie, reached 96.2 MPH on 100% algae-derived Green Crude diesel fuel supplied by Sapphire Energy Inc., one of the world’s leaders in algae-based oil crude production. Together, they established the fastest and only known records to date for an algae-fueled motorcycle.

The Driving Innovation Team rode a unique turbo-charged, 800cc diesel powered Track Motorcycle manufactured in Holland. The bike was shipped from Holland to the US last fall courtesy of FedEx Express in a show of support for the project. They rode five times, registering 94.6, 95.1, 95.2, 95.6, and 96.2 MPH. Their next official speed trial will be in El Mirage, Calif., on May 19th.

“The Texas Mile organizers, racers, and spectators were extremely supportive of our team during the speed trials and I would really like to thank them for the warm welcome and opportunity to put algae fuel to the test. I am excited to work with them more in the future,” said Gustavson.

In a project entitled One Barrel for Baja, Gustavson led a team of UCSD students to make a portion of the biofuel themselves under the supervision of Dr. B. Greg Mitchell’s Scripps Photobiology Group, with assistance from the San Diego Center for Algal Biotechnology. The students grew and harvested algae using a sponsored Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) unit supplied by World Water Works from ponds at the Carbon Capture Corporation’s facility near the Salton Sea and at a greenhouse facility on the university’s campus.

After the algae harvest, its biomass was isolated and sent to Dr. Skip Pomeroy’s Laboratory at UCSD. In the laboratory, the lipids and fats were then extracted and further converted into usable diesel fuel by the Biofuels Action and Awareness Network.

Gustavson, a recent graduate of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation’s MAS Program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is a co-founder of Below the Surface, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring waterways and educating the public about issues pertaining to water. He started the One Barrel for Baja Project in order to synthesize enough algal biodiesel to compete in various speed trials and the grueling Baja 1000 race this fall ( Below the Surface is committed to finding solutions to pollution and believes that biofuels from algae can help reduce run-off going into America’s waterways.

The Driving Innovation team is supported by: Dr. B. Greg Mitchell and his team from the Scripps Photobiology Group, Phitec, FedEx, Sapphire Energy, RED i Nation, Fun Bike Center, Clif Bar, Earth Protect, World Water Works, Carbon Capture Corporation, the BIOCOM Institute, Goal Zero, Screwed Industries, Dockers, New Leaf Biofuels, SD-CAB, BAAN, and the UCSD Student Veterans Organization.


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