There are certain moments that you remember from your youthful days that are so vivid that you can actually recall every detail of that point in time: what you were wearing, what something smelled like, etc. These events can be good, bad, important or just plain trivial. As for me I have many of those “scrapbook” memories taking up valuable space on the hard drive in my head, but one especially stands out in this day and age that we’re in.
I remember it was a Saturday morning in 1980 (queue the wavy video, go out of focus and play the harp music) and I was watching the rather horrible cartoon called “Blackstar” on the local CBS affiliate. Back in those good ‘ol days the television stations did their best to try to cram in a little education on Saturday mornings along with toy and cereal commercials that weren’t afraid of letting parents and children know that it was fortified with sugar, coated with sugar and had a magnificent prize in each box… which also was laced with sugar. They had a five minute bit (with no songs… unlike School House Rock on ABC) that ran during the commercial breaks called “In The News”. Although these were on multiple times during my cartoon worship time there was one that really caught my attention. The fuel problems, or simply the lack of said fuel, were still pretty fresh in my little fertile mind. I remember well the days of odd and even, long lines where you could sit for hours waiting your turn to fuel up, and green and red flags signaling if there was fuel or not at the pump.
It wasn’t like months back where fuel was too damn expensive because people are guessing how much it’ll cost in the future (stupid!)… there just simply wasn’t enough. So when the reporter came on the air and said that there was a way to make fuel out of algae he had my full attention. What sounded like pure sci-fi was just so simple in all reality. I remember the report showing that massive amounts of algae could be grown and harvested extremely fast and when compressed (squished) it yielded an oil that could be used as a fuel. He didn’t say it, but he was talking about bio-diesel. One day soon… we would grow our own fuel, it would be cheap and we wouldn’t have to rely on any outside sources. We can start to plan the party and tell everyone to kiss off! Our days of oil dependency were almost at an end!
Check your calendars folks… it’s now the futuristic year of 2009 and we still don’t have that “green” fuel I was promised. It seemed so easy and the right thing to do, but just like the astro-base we were supposed to have on the moon (still a very bitter subject for me) it never came to be.
Yeah, that five minute deal made quite an impression on ‘lil Johnny to say the least. For a while there I remember talking about this great innovation that was coming soon to anyone who’d listen, but I couldn’t find any information on the subject anywhere. So I went to work at the local library (remember… this was in the ’80s and Al Gore hadn’t created the Internet yet) trying to find out about renewable fuels… and mind you I was ten. “Renewable fuels, what is that?” they’d ask. So frustrating! Anyway, when it was time for the science fair at my school I knew what I was going to be doing an exhibit on. The result of my report and display was taken as if I was a being from the future. Puzzled, teachers asked me for more information. I followed this project up the next year with my plant that screamed when you touched it (and registered that touch and the pressure of it on an oscilloscope, but that’s another story). Needless to say I got labeled as one of those “smart kids“, which didn’t do much for the ‘ol social life.
But yet I digress… let’s get back to the subject of bio-fuels, shall we?
These kinds of alternate fuel ideas are still around and have been explored more, but almost in secret as the general public doesn’t seem to be really aware of them. Posted below are some links worth checking out, like the reintroduction of the algae fuel (hell yeah!) and little microbes that eat trash… and poop out fuel. So whether it’s running microbe poop in the tank or stopping the pool man from cleaning up your next stash of fuel, our future can be green and clean. Now all we have to do is develop these technologies more… and stop the folks from guessing the cost of our current fuel so that we can get where we need to be: a crappy and slimy.
Report on microbes and fungus fuel
Lil sea trash eaters
Cow barf power?
I think the reporter said something about algae fuel in this piece… but for some reason I was distracted.
Why couldn’t I find this stuff when I was 10?
Algae jet fuel?