This Week in Biodiesel

Three years ago I couldn’t find anyone who knew what biodiesel was except weird scientist types and real salt of the earth hippies. An enthusiastic person could actually keep track of just about everything going on in the biodiesel world—now there’s no chance. Biodiesel is virtually a household name with serious clout among celebrities, scientists, and capitalists alike. I no longer feel like a lone proselytizer in the wilderness thanks to advocates from across the spectrum. The New York Times recently reported on Willie Nelson’s advocacy and his own line of veggie fuel, Bonnie Rait has been holding special sessions at her shows to promote the stuff, and high school students in Indiana are getting biodiesel science kits for their classes. You can see Daryl Hannah on TV tearing around in hergun-metal-black, bio-powered El Camino and drinking biodiesel from a glass alongside LA biodiesel maven and Biobling creator Colette Brooks. A car will race in the Le Mans in France on biodiesel, and Morgan Freeman was recently named to the board of a sizable Dallas biodiesel company. The National Biodiesel Board estimates that 2005 saw the production of 75 million gallons in the US, triple the amount of the year before, and factories continue to spring up around the country and the world. As the biodiesel industry grows and its use spreads, so do we get deeper into the finer points of sustainability and long-term impacts. As with any technology, there is no one way to go about things, and some ways are better than others. But as we continue to learn and innovate, this is clearly headed in a positive direction.