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Could Algae Be The Answer to Our Fuel Needs?

By JLP | May 22, 2008

Watch this video and tell me what you think. I think it looks promising and it looks like it can be done for about $2 at the pump (I’m guessing here).

While you’re at it, watch this short video too:

I thought the last video was interesting when he talked about the gallon yield per acre of various biofuel crops:

Soy 48 gallons per acre
Rapeseed (canola oil) 127 gallons per acre
Algae 10,000 gallons per acre

For more information, here’s some other interesting articles I found this evening:

The first one is a blog post I found on Gas 2.0 (cool name for a blog) from late March about the first algae biodiesel plant going live on April 1st.

The second is an article from January, 2007 with some background information on making biofuel from algae.

The third piece is an interesting post highlighting 15 algae startup companies.

Topics: Biofuels | 3 Comments »


3 Responses to “Could Algae Be The Answer to Our Fuel Needs?”

  1. www.caroftheday.org Says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Well they should be able to harvest algae because that stuff grows very fast. All you have to do is what the pool in the backyard of the foreclosed house next to us.

  2. Phil Says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 4:52 am

    This is an exciting area – but it is years away from producing biofuels at any reasonable scale -no one has demonstrated 10,000 gal/acre, yet, that is the maximum promise of the technology.

    There are lots complications the pretty, telegenic PR person in the first video didn’t mention. I don’t have time to go through these here. The problems will be worked out eventually and the technology will be scaled. But I certainly wouldn’t invest in any of these companies at this point unless I was already independently wealthy.

    Oh, and while this will put a dent in the carbon cycle problem, it is not a solution. The algae only takes in CO2 during the day in sunlight and we in the US generate ~7 billion tons/yr of carbon 24/7 – including during the night and when it is cloudy. So we still need to develop cost-efficient CO2 capture technologies from power plants. A slip stream of this CO2 could be sent to the biofuels companies, the rest of the CO2 goes into the ground.

    Here’s the real carrot: if it all works we will make the Mideast strategically irrelevant to the interests of the US since we will need much less of OPEC’s oil — Utopia!

    The future car industry much more likely will go to electric vehicles which get power from the grid, so biodiesel may have it’s day, but in decades to come, it might be eclipsed by electric vehicles.

    Either way we can stop caring about the Mideast.

  3. Patrick Says:
    May 24th, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Very interesting. I love the promise of green energy and wish the US would do more to facilitate its expansion. Unfortunately, it seems like US politicians are more concerned with pandering to the big companies and special interest groups than going with the best solutions and technology.

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