Sept. 25, 2009— -- It's been said that America is addicted to oil, but Josh Tickell is taking steps to conquer his own oil dependence -- and he hopes that the rest of the country follows in his footsteps.
Tickell is the creator of the Veggie Van Organization and director of "Fuel," which was honored as best documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
So what's so special about the Algaeus?
As the name suggests, it's the world's first algae-powered plug-in electric hybrid vehicle.
Tickell just finished a 10-day drive from Los Angeles to New York City in his Algaeus. On the trip, the car averaged 147 miles per gallon in the city, where it runs on electricity alone. On the highway, where it works as a hybrid, it averaged 52 miles per gallon.
Most amazing of all, Tickell stopped only six times for fill-ups.
So how does the Algaeus get such extraordinary mileage?
Essentially, the Algaeus is a tricked-out version of the already fuel-efficient Prius. Tickell added a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug to the hybrid car. Instead of gasoline, the car's engine runs on algae fuel.
The set-up is so effective that the Algaeus can run on approximately 25 gallons from coast to coast.
Developed by the green startup company Sapphire Energy, algae fuel is produced on a farm in the deserts of New Mexico.
Proponents of algae fuel claim that it has the potential to be a new source of 100 percent carbon neutral energy that won't require changing the country's current energy infrastructure.
That's because algae has the same chemical composition as gasoline and is, therefore, compatible with existing gasoline technology, from refineries to car engines.
Unlike an oil rig, an algae farm can be located almost anywhere, and does not require converting farmland or nature preserves.
Right now, algae fuel isn't available to consumers, but its makers hope to make it available commercially within the next five years.
If you want to see green fuel become a reality, Tickell has a few suggestions. He recommends calling your representatives and urging them to create incentives for algae fuel, or holding a town hall meeting in your area to help spread the word about the technology.