You really can drive across country on algae and a 700-pound battery pack, or so proved the crew behind the documentary Fuel . Embarking on September 8 and pulling into New York City today, just in time for the film's premiere, the Algaeus covered 3,750 miles.
"It got 147 miles-per-gallon in the city," says Fuel director Josh Tickell of the converted to plug-in Prius hybrid that he drove on a mix of battery power and algae fuel blended with conventional gasoline. The Algaeus did less well on the highway: 52 mpg, because of the lack of regenerative braking that recharges the battery, among other things.
The algae came from 22 acres of special ponds at Sapphire Energy's research and development facility in New Mexico, where local strains of the microscopic plant grow in vats of saltwater while being fed CO2 that would otherwise go into Coca-Cola and other fizzy drinks, according to Tim Zenk, a spokesman for Sapphire.