Bioenergy: America’s Energy Future

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Bioenergy: America's Energy Future is a short documentary film showcasing examples of bioenergy innovations across the biomass supply chain and the United States. The film highlights a few stories of individuals and companies who are passionate about achieving the promise of biofuels and addressing the challenges of developing a thriving bioeconomy.

Text Version

Below is the text version for the Bioenergy: America's Energy Future video.

Bioenergy: America’s Energy Future appears on screen, followed by cars driving on highway overpasses.

Caption: Dr. Stephen Mayfield, Director, California Center for Algae Biotechnology (UCSD)

Stephen Mayfield: The big picture is that fossil fuels are a finite resource and climate change is real. And those two things are overwhelming drivers for the world going forward.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) entrance sign is displayed, followed by two men in a laboratory with beakers.

Caption: Dr. Johnathan Male, Director, Bioenergy Technologies Office, EERE, U.S. Department of Energy

Jonathan Male: It’s very exciting to see new scientists and engineers who care passionately about the area of bioenergy. And I’m sure there are hundreds, thousands out there, who are on the cusp of finding out how they can have a profound impact in the field of bioenergy now and in the future.

A man and woman are shown working in a laboratory. Then Sara Volz is shown dropping liquid onto a microscope screen.

Caption: Sara Volz, Innovator, Winner, Intel Science Talent Search

Sara Volz: I was basically looking for an idea that had to do with chemistry or biology because I loved those topics. Those were my favorite topics.  And I also wanted an idea that addressed a major global issue.

Sara Voltz is shown receiving an award metal, followed by a variety of award ribbons and a newspaper article titled, "Young Scientist: Volz might be just 16, but her work is cutting edge of biofuel technology."

Sara Volz: I actually heard about people who were making biodiesel that could go straight into a diesel engine, and they were doing that all in their garage. I wanted to see if there was a way that I could impact the metabolism of the algae to try to make them over produce oil.

An aerial view of San Francisco is shown.

Caption: Johnathan Wolfson, Co-founder and CEO, Solazyme

Jonathan Wolfson: My cofounder and I have been talking about how we can use biotechnology to improve the planet and the environment since we were freshmen in college in the late 80s.

Caption: Solazyme Global Headquarters

The exterior of the Solazyme Global Headquarters is displayed, followed by a man and a woman walking down a hallway. Next, a man examining a beaker and other men working in a laboratory are shown.

Jonathan Wolfson: There were quite a few bumps along the way and our very original technology, the way we were trying to grow algae to make oil, didn’t really work well. You need to learn from what the science tells you and you need to try, fail, make a change, and then you start to make improvements because finally you find something that works. Then you make a change and it gets better.

A naval aircraft carrier is shown, along with a man filling up an airplane fuel tank and aircrafts flying.

Jonathan Wolfson: We’ve been partnered with the U.S. Navy since 2007, delivering larger and larger quantities of fuels that meet their specifications to run their planes and their ships.

Caption: The Nelson Family Farm, Emmetsburg, Iowa

The Nelson family farm appears on screen, and then cuts to a man driving a truck, with an Emmetsburg sign and a gravel drive.

Caption: Bruce Nelson, All-American, Iowa State, NFL 2003-2004

Bruce Nelson: My grandpa came here in 1942. I’m the fourth generation. I came back from playing ball, did not know exactly what I wanted to do.  I kind of came back here to figure it out.

An image of fresh sprouts is shown, followed by a tractor harvesting crops. The video then cuts to footage of a man driving a tractor and walking through a farm.

Bruce Nelson: We farm about 2,800 acres. We’ve been harvesting biostover in a renewable and a sustainable way. It’s more jobs for the young farmers that are coming back to the farm, and so I think there is going to be even more people getting on board.

A race crew for Corvette is shown driving a cart.

Caption: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York

Caption: Scott Atherton, President and COO, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)

Scott Atherton: Around 2005, 2006 we realized that there was an opportunity here to introduce biofuels into the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship to build a whole green racing platform.

The Corvette race car is shown, followed by footage of Porsche race cars.

Scott Atherton: All of the cars competing from Chevrolet, Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, SRT, Dodge Viper—they are all competing with that cellulosic E85. 

The video cuts to footage of biofuel containers.

Stephen Mayfield: We need people to demand that we have low-carbon fuels. And then we need to continue to do the research both on the biological side to make better strains and on the engineering side to make that whole process more efficient.

Footage of Mildred Fernandez filling up her car with biofuel is shown.

Caption: Mildred Fernandez, California commuter

Mildred Fernandez: I just like the fact that it is saving the environment. It’s made here and it’s 50 cents less than what the regular gas is here. I’m sold.

Footage of bales of hay and a scientist testing algae mixtures is shown, followed by a man climbing a grain silo and a woman examining a container of biofuel.

Jonathan Male: That’s jobs for manufacturers who are harvesting up that biomass. That’s jobs for scientists and engineers. And it’s home-grown jobs and its new jobs. And it’s maintaining the U.S.’s competitive advantage driving ultimately to billions of gallons of biofuels. 

Caption: Bioenergy: America's Energy Future
U.S. Department of Energy logo,