Monday, September 29, 2008

Algae into Fuel

The more I read about being green and green related things, the more I become fascinated by alternative fuels. It is incredible what can substitute for traditional oil now and also what technologies are being developed to get us closer to oil independence.

I came across an article on algae and how it is being harvested and the oil is being used as a biofuel. They are saying it is much more efficient that corn, because you don't have to grow it as you would traditional crops. Also, it has been said that growing corn is very harsh on the soil and takes out all nutrients so afterwards, to grow anything on that soil is impossible.

Algae is made up of up to 70% oil, is completely renewable and photo-synthesizes a lot of Carbon. Could Algae be the savior to our dependence on foreign oil and cleaning up our atmosphere? Let's hope they discover something soon!!

Here are some excerpts from this great article:

Algae is the slimy stuff that clouds your home aquarium and gets tangled in your feet in a lake or ocean. It can grow almost everywhere there is water and sunlight, and under the right conditions it can double its volume within hours. Scientists and industrialists agree that the potential is huge.

"This is the ultimate fast-growing organism," says Peter van den Dorpel, chief operating officer of AlgaeLink, which makes bioreactors for speeding reproduction. "Algae is lazy. It eats carbon dioxide and produces oxygen." It has no roots, no leaves, no shoots. "It grows so fast because it has nothing else to do. It just swims in the water."

Farming algae doesn't require much space or good cropland, so it avoids the fuel-for-food dilemma that has plagued first and second generation biofuels like corn, rapeseed and palm oil.

It can grow in fresh water, polluted water, sea water or farm runoff. It can purify a city's sewage while feeding on the nitrogen and phosphates in human waste.

And it is rich in oil. The most common types farmed today have an oil content of 30 percent, and it can go up to 70 percent or more.

It also consumes nearly twice its weight in carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas that is discharged by vehicles, power plants and many heavy industries and which scientists say is causing climate change.