Desert Biofuels Initiative Inc.

A Non-Profit Social Venture Promoting "Local Biofuels" in the Valley of the Sun 

Desert Biofuels Initiative is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit that promotes the development of a sustainable biofuels infrastructure in the Valley of the Sun.  Our goal is to foster an environment where the local biofuels vision can flourish in the Phoenix area and throughout Arizona. This page provides an overview of our vision and goals.  For more detailed information, please visit our blog and our Google Group site.   

The role of the Desert Biofuels Initiative

Key 2008 Projects

Who we are

Contact us

"Local biofuels" make sense for Arizona

Local biofuels.  Local biofuels, also sometimes called sustainable regional biofuels, are biofuels that are produced locally, using local, sustainable non-food inputs, and used locally.  Examples of local biofuels include converting restaurant waste oil (WVO) to biodiesel, or using locally produced algae feedstocks to make biodiesel or ethanol. 

Environmental benefits.  Biofuels provide dramatic air quality and other environmental benefits over petroleum fuels.  For example, simply converting all local WVO to biodiesel for use in place of petrol diesel would save 100,000 tons of CO2 annually from Maricopa County air.

Local biofuels provide significant environmental advantages over non-local biofuels (e.g. corn ethanol or soy biodiesel). 

Economic development benefits.  Developing a local energy infrastructure creates jobs and dramatically boosts the regional economy.  Keeping even a modest portion of the dollars that currently flow out of Arizona would be "game changing" for the region.

Regional economic security.  Experience has shown that the petroleum fuel infrastructure in Arizona is fragile and subject to disruption.  Local fuel sources mitigate this risk.

Geo-political benefits.  Reducing dependence on foreign oil helps the U.S. disentangle from complex geo-political situations.

Arizona can implement local biofuels in a world class way.   

Arizona is the home of leading edge biofuel researchers, global leaders in sustainability and science policy analysis, innovative entrepreneurs, and forward-looking policymakers who understand and are supportive of biofuels.  We have the opportunity to rally diverse stakeholders and implement local biofuels in a world class way that will be a model for other regions.

The role of the Desert Biofuels Initiative

The development of a local biofuels infrastructure requires the commitment and cooperation of diverse stakeholders: the entrepreneurial and commercial community, government policymakers, non-governmental organizations, academic researchers and forward-thinking individuals.  Difficult technical, financial and policy challenges must be overcome.  DBI is a non-profit that promotes the vision of local biofuels and serves as the "glue" connecting different stakeholder groups. DBI identifies obstacles to local biofuels in Arizona and solves the problems that are not being solved by other stakeholders.

Key 2008 Projects


  • White Paper -- overview of legal/regulatory environment for biofuels producers in Arizona 
Version 1.0 available via Google Docs or in HTML, Word, OpenOffice or PDF formats.  (Thank you to AZ Biodiesel, whose financial support of the ASU Technology Ventures Clinic helped make this paper possible.)
  • White Paper -- overview/analysis of feedstock options in Arizona (WVO, agricultural, algae).  In process.
  • White Paper -- analysis of biofuel incentive programs adopted by other states and outline of alternatives for AZ policymakers. In process
  • Continue to build "think tank" capabilities; more here.


  • Alage biofuels demonstration plant exploration.  Plan is to develop a public-private partnership to build a demonstration algae-to-biofuel plant.  Early version of vision here.
  • Facilitate discussions between grassroots homebrew and co-op stakeholders and municipal stakeholders concerning potential municipal support for a co-op, in order to address public safety and water treatment issues. 
  • Incentive program to encourage conversion of all local restaurant WVO to biodiesel; more here (effective 9/08 project is unresourced and on hold).


"...a watershed for AZ biodiesel..."
" ...never been at a conference with such broad representation, from corporate, to government, education, NGOs and home brewers..."
"...showed just how important this topic is..."

"...tremendously valuable..."
  • Continue to blog news and information relevant to the Arizona biofuels community (blog has been called "a must-read for the current happenings in biofuels in Arizona")
  • Continue direct outreach to key policymakers and other stakeholders 

Who we are 

DBI was founded by Eric Johnson and Brad Biddle.  Eric has created a series of blog posts that describes the circumstances that led to the effort.  Eric now serves as operations director and Brad serves as policy director.  Sam West, Research Fellow at ASU Law's Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology, directs special projects for DBI.   Rick Berry has generously provided pro bono legal counsel, and without his efforts DBI would not exist. Francine Hardaway, Kathy Sacks and Mark Edwards are among our key strategic advisors.

We're extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we've received from many members of the local biofuels community. Many of these stakeholders and supporters are listed on our blog sidebar.

Contact us

Eric, Brad, and Sam can be contacted via email using the format firstname [at]

We are physically located at ASU SkySong, 1475 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85257.  Our phone is 480-884-1668.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -