The Green Mile

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The Riverine Command Boat, powered in part by Solazyme of South San Francisco. (Credit: U.S. Navy/Specialist 3rd Class William Jamieson)

That gunboat you see to your left operates on a 50/50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel.

Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, of the navy's sustainability division, put it this way: "We no longer want to be held hostage by one form of energy such as petroleum."

The US navy plans to run 50% of its fleet on a mix of renewable fuels and nuclear power by 2020.

To that end, the Navy put in an order for 150,000 gallons of algae-based fuel from Solazyme of South San Francisco, also known for its work with Mercedes.

The Air Force has already flown a camelina powered A-10 Thunderbolt II , and the Marine Corps, keen to stop the attacks on its fossil fuel caravans, recently sent Company I, Third Battalion to Afghanistan's Helmand province partially powered with solar.

It's worth noting the US is not the world's super power in bio-fuel. That title belongs to Brazil, in large part because the US got sidetracked with corn-based ethanol. Well, certain parts of the US.  Not California.

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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