Planet Forward on TV coming April 8!

Cross-posted from Advanced Biofuels USA by Joanne Ivancic

The Center for Innovative Media at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs project, Planet Forward, provides an Internet forum for experts and interested public to provide their ideas for solutions to energy, climate change and sustainability challenges.  Partnerships with the National Geographic Great Energy Challenge, PBS’ Nightly Business Report, the National Science Foundation, Volkswagen and others enabled them to design and conduct a competition that concludes with a one-hour PBS special airing on April 8, 2011 during Earth Day Week.

Advanced Biofuels USA first heard of this project when we were contacted by George Washington University students preparing their submission about algal biofuel potential.  They interviewed Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, Director of the Navy Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, about the algal biofuels test on the  Experimental Riverine Command Vessel off of Norfolk, Virginia, and wanted to also interview others about algal biomass.  We provided contact information and wished them well.

A few months later, the producers of the PBS program contacted Advanced Biofuels USA  for background information and an overall discussion of some of the topics included in the biofuels submissions.  The possibilities for educating the public about many of the feedstocks and technologies for developing advanced biofuels became clear.

Advanced Biofuels USA then posted notice of the contest and sent an email to all the biofuels PR folks we knew of, suggesting that they participate in this project.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get the word out until shortly before the deadline for submissions to be included in the contest.  Sapphire Energy did respond and became one of the final nominees for “Innovator of the Year.”

Mike McAdams, Senior Policy Advisor at Holland & Knight LLP, (also known as the executive director or Advanced Biofuels Association) taped his submission at the The Business Response to Climate Change at The George Washington University, February 10th 2011, providing a summary of synthetic biology, gasification and hydro-processing.

Atlantic Biomass Conversions, Inc., submitted two ideas, taped “on the fly” in Florida.  One primitive tape suggested urging car companies to complete their development of optimized flex fuel engines that use the beneficial characteristics of ethanol to get similar optimized mileage regardless of ethanol/gasoline blend.  The other promoted Atlantic Biomass Conversions’s Follow-the-Crop idea–to use enzyme-based processes to conduct initial conversion of feedstock at the harvest or food processing site; and to promote the company’s enzyme-based process to convert to “biocrude” the hemicellulose, cellulose and pectin in sugar beet pulp and other agricultural processing residues.

The Planet Forward production team and expert panelists. Photo J.Ivancic

To get a background feel for what went into the taping read Planet Forward intern, Carrie Winans’ blog reports on her experience and watch a time lapse of the transformation of the auditorium with Maryland Public Television resources, familiar to many as the Crossfire TV set.

Ideas are accepted at any time on the Planet Forward website.  Staff anticipate the next competition will begin in November.

The Planet Forward show, hosted by Frank Sesno, former CNN Senior Vice President and Washington bureau chief, also featured guest panelists Thomas M. Connelly, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, DuPont; Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan; and Andrew Revkin, New York Times/Dot Earth Writer (who made a point of claiming that corn ethanol causes world food prices to rise).  The program will air on April 8, 2011.  Check local listings for the exact time.  And plan to submit YOUR ideas for the next round beginning in November.

Columbia University Engineers without Borders with Andrew Revkin Photo J.Ivancic

Innovator of the Year Finalists:

An Empire State of Energy:  Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials.

Algae into Butanol: Jamie Hestekin and a team at the University of Arkansaas

Sapphire Energy: Michael Mendez

Sungevity:  Danny Kennedy

From Waste to the Racetrack:  Linda-Rose Myers, Eco-Tech Fuels

Project Get Ready:  Al Dahlberg

LightWorks: Gary Dirks, Arizona State University

Special recognition was given to Waste to Power, the Columbia Chapter of Engineers Without Borders which worked with the community in Obodan, Ghana to implement a sanitation system that recycles liquid human waste and harvests biogas from the solid human waste.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.