The Baja 1000 is an annual race that takes place in Mexico on the Baja California Peninsula every November. The race is a very long and grueling off-road trek on desert terrain that starts in Ensenada and ends in La Paz. The race draws hundreds of the world’s best off-road racers as well as motorcycle and auto manufacturers to watch some of their best vehicles pushed to their limits.
This year, one motorcycle will make history. For the first time in the 45-year history of the Baja 1000, a motorcycle powered by biodiesel fuel – sponsored in part by Life Technologies - will compete in the race. And make no mistake – this won’t be a publicity stunt. With a top speed close to 96 mph, this bike will be competitive. (The maximum race speed is 60 mph.) It also gets about twice the mileage as regular gas-powered bikes, a factor that may well give the bike a competitive edge.
A group of scientists in San Diego, California believe that marine algae are the answer to clean energy that can be used to fuel vehicles. One of these believers is Kristian Gustavson, a graduate of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and a longtime motorcyclist enthusiast. Kristian is part of a project called “One Barrel for Baja”. The project, supported by students, researchers and other faculty of UC San Diego set out to obtain enough algal biomass to fill one 42-gallon barrel with biofuel. “One Barrel for Baja is a unifying effort to catalyze biotechnology development and demonstrate the performance capabilities of algal biodiesel fuel to the racing community because they are usually the first to find out what works and what doesn’t,” said Kristian. To show the racing community and the world what biofuels can do, Kristian will race in the Baja 1000 on a motorcycle powered by algal biodiesel fuel and cooking oil.
The biofuel itself is being supplied by another of the sponsors, Sapphire Energy, but Kristian and his collaborators at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and UCSD produced their own biofuel for the test runs and previous races in Texas using many of the biofuel research products produced by Life Technologies.
Biofuels are an emerging global solution
A finite supply of fossil fuels cannot sustain the needs of a world population of 7 billion people. The need for biofuels is rapidly evolving on a global scale.
With a limited natural supply and growing global demand, synthetic biology provides alternative energy solutions. At Life Technologies, we’re partnering with forward-thinking organizations to raise awareness and collaborate on innovative solutions for the biofuel industry to develop, optimize, and mass produce new, renewable energy sources. For this reason, sponsoring Kristian's goal to raise awareness about the use of biofuels was a natural fit.
The Baja 1000 kicks off today - Wednesday, November 14th. Follow Kristian's adventure on Twitter via @belowthesurface
The above image was originally posted on the Explorations Now - Scripps Institute of Oceanography website. The below images were sent to Life Technologies by Kristian as the bike was being built and posted on the Below the Surface Twitter page.