Michael Briggs, a UNH physicist, has performed a brief study (what we engineers would refer to as a "back of an envelope calculation" to determine approximately what amount of resources would be required to keep the nation's transportation system running on biodiesel. To produce the approximately 140 billion gallons of fuel per year, Briggs estimates that it would require approximately 15,000 square miles (a bit under 10 million acres) of shallow salt-water ponds, with an initial investment of about $300 billion and per-year costs of around $46B. All of those seem like large numbers, until you figure that we use nearly a half-billion acres as farmland in this country, and spend about $150B on oil imports last year.


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