Apr 23, 2010

The 2 Big Questions

As consumers, we drive the products available. If no one bought something, it would disappear quickly. On the flip side, whatever you buy a lot of will stick around for a while. There are 2 questions we need to ask about any product we consume:

1. What is it made from?

2. How is it made?

In our business, what are the biofuels made from? There are many choices: corn, soy, used cooking oil, algae, cellulose, expired soda pop, food scraps, palm oil, sugar cane, jaltropa seeds, camelina, hemp, canola, fish oil, animal fat, and many more. SeQuential has always had this question in mind. We source the best options from all of these: our biodiesel - made from used cooking oil - has the lowest lifecycle carbon footprint of any alternative fuel, including electric cars plugged into today's grid. Our ethanol is still evolving, but much of it now comes from food processing sugar waste. Produced this way, it shatters the conventional wisdom about ethanol being an evil fuel that will starve the world and destroy the environment.

How is it made?

If we made these cool biofuels using slave labor, coal-fired electricity, barrels of petroleum, and produced tons of waste by-products, the game is up. Fortunately, this isn't the case! Our plant in Salem uses a proprietary washing system that produces zero waste water and a high-grade fertilizer. Heavy fats and oils that can't be processed are burned for heat and power. We have a distilation column to capture and re-use our methanol. All employees are paid excellent wages and have full benefits.

Here's the bottom line: consumption is complex. Boiling this complexity down to simple triggers like "biofuel" or "organic" is not good enough. Shallow doesn't cut it, you have to go deeper.

Apr 13, 2010

Jealous of Europeans? You are now!

Americans are all too familiar with gasoline engines. Our diesel engine experience is limited to big trucks, old Mercedes, and a handful of newer VW's. Yet we hear about this high mileage utopia called Europe, where stylish diesels are in every garage.

The message from car companies is "America isn't ready for diesel...we can't make cars that get high mileage...it's all too costly..." Without going to Europe, and hearing messages like these, we logically conclude European diesel cars exist from annonymous brands we've never heard of. Mythical companies shrouded in secret...wooooooh.

Let the truth shine in! Below are interesting links from your favorite car companies. Hopefully these are the cars we'll be driving in the near future.

Warning: the following may increase your desire to leave America.

Honda Civic w/ diesel engine getting 55mpg: http://www.honda.co.uk/cars/civic5door/#fullspecification

Subaru Outback w/ diesel boxer engine, getting 43mpg: http://www.subaru.co.uk/Subaru_co_uk/ViewMenu.qed?menuid=M0M0M1

Toyota Yaris w/ diesel getting 69mpg: http://www.toyota.co.uk/cgi-bin/toyota/bv/generic_editorial.jsp?deepLink=YA5_Specification_new&nodiv=TRUE&fullwidth=TRUE&edname=specSheet_YA5&carModel=Yaris&imgName=bv/CarChapter/YA5/Imagery/YA5_spec.jpg&zone=Zone%20YARIS&navRoot=toyota_1024_root