Tools & Technology


Fossil fuel has gotten us into all sorts of trouble lately. Why not turn to plants?

Episode 63 | February 27, 2009

Episode 63: Biofuel by Distillations Podcast

Fossil fuel has gotten us into all sorts of trouble lately. Gas production and consumption has caused international conflict, wrecked havoc on our planet, and lightened our wallets at the gas pump. Why not turn to plants? They get their energy from the sun; and with a little smart science, they can pass on their clean green energy to our cars. In this episode producer Catherine Girardeau takes us to San Francisco and Tempe, Arizona, where researchers rely on abundant sunshine to grow marine life that can be turned into fuel. And we’ll get the recipe for making biodiesel out of leftover cooking oil. Chemical Agent: Cellulose.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32 Introduction
01:24 Chemical Agent: Cellulose
04:01 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Biodiesel
06:52 Feature: Algae as Fuel
11:00 Closing Credits

Resources and References

For everything you want to know about biodiesel, including how to make it, where to buy it, and the latest news, visit the National Biodiesel Board.

For a digest of information and articles on biodiesel, including debate over the ethanol, visit the New York Times’s special topic section.

Visit Solazyme to learn more about their quest to turn marine microbes into renewable energy.


Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is: ”Paparazzi French Fries,” by Schmee, and  ”Soma Magnet,” by Pablo Perez.

This week’s image shows algae tubes in Milton Sommerfield’s lab at Arizona State University. Photograph provided by Rene Gutel.