Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu is leading the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's efforts to develop cleaner forms of energy, including new types of solar cells and new biofuels. He answered viewer questions about his research and the future of alternative fuels.
My brother is now driving his Mercedes on a methanol mixture his friend makes in his garage. He says it works great! It is methanol, lye, and salad oil. The friend gets his salad oil from a local Chinese restaurant. Can you comment on this?
Steven Chu responds:
This mixture would be hard to commercialize on a large scale. The local Chinese restaurant cannot supply thousands of people. Although there is some biodiesel made from used frying oil and other waste products, this path does not look promising for large scale applications. Also, your brother may not have included as inputs his time, labor and energy usage and thus the true cost may be understated.