Before NASA went to space, it focused on flying on Earth.

With oil prices rising, and some calling for global tariffs on jet fuel, NASA is leading the way on alternative fuels for airplanes and other vehicles. In this podcast, AOL Energy’s Felicity Carus discusses NASA’s recent OMEGA project-aimed at creating fuel from algae-with bioengineer Jonathan Trent in this AOL Energy podcast.

“There’s no place to plug anything in up there,” Trent says in the podcast.

The Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae project reuses wastewater by feeding it to algae that then produce oil which can be converted into fuel. For astronauts in space and even for passengers on an airplane, this system could solve two problems at one: biowaste could be disposed and fuel could be created.

With talk of a US smart grid and other proposing fuel cells for efficiency, this fuel-producing algae is an interesting addition to the conversation.