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Algae - our new found green friend?

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If bio-fuels are set to replace oil, Algae could be our savior in more ways than one...

 

Algae growth can produce up to 15,000 gallons of fuel per acre.

For comparisson:

Soybeans - 50 gallons per acre

Rape-seed (canola) oil - 100 gallons per acre

Palm oil - 600 gallons per acre

 

A strain of Algae has also been found that soaks up and thrives on CO2.

 

This must be one heck of a business/investment opportunity!

 

Links:

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003999.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0111/p01s03-sten.html

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Intriguing...

It grows in sea water, doesnt it?

 

How does it burn?

 

- - -

 

SOME BALANCE- from the article...

So what are the drawbacks?

 

Two come to mind. The first is that, although it appears as if the technology reduces CO2 emissions from both power plants and cars, the truth is that it simply diverts one to the other. The CO2 captured from the power plant is emitted when the biofuel is burned in vehicles. Unlike biofuels made from open-field plants, the algae in this system doesn't recapture the CO2 produced when the fuel is eventually used. This still provides a net benefit, as this means the resulting volume CO2 is only going into the air once, instead of twice (from both power plant and car). Nonetheless, it would be easy to over-estimate the impact of the technology.

 

The second is more troubling. Ideally, this could be a transition technology, enabling a move to cleaner power generation and transportation systems by reducing the immediate carbon footprint of older methods. The risk is that it could instead slow the transition to cleaner systems by reducing the intensity of the pressure to change. Why spend millions of dollars on new wind/solar/tidal power generation if existing coal plants can be 50% cleaner for far less? Why invest in trying to get hydrogen or advanced battery vehicles to market within the decade if biofuels are readily available? In short, this could be a situation where the "good enough for now" is the enemy of "as good as we need it to be."

 

- - -

 

SECOND ARTICLE - excerpt:

 

Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks

 

By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

 

BOSTON – Isaac Berzin is a big fan of algae. The tiny, single-celled plant, he says, could transform the world's energy needs and cut global warming.

Overshadowed by a multibillion-dollar push into other "clean-coal" technologies, a handful of tiny companies are racing to create an even cleaner, greener process using the same slimy stuff that thrives in the world's oceans.

 

. . p1a.jpg

A 'GREEN' SCRUBBER: Isaac Berzin, an MIT scientist, is using algae to clean up power-plant exhaust.

MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN - STAFF

 

Enter Dr. Berzin, a rocket scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About three years ago, while working on an experiment for growing algae on the International Space Station, he came up with the idea for using it to clean up power-plant exhaust.

 

If he could find the right strain of algae, he figured he could turn the nation's greenhouse-gas-belching power plants into clean-green generators with an attached algae farm next door.

. .

After the CO2 is soaked up like a sponge, the algae is harvested daily. From that harvest, a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel for automobiles. Berzin hands a visitor two vials - one with algal biodiesel, a clear, slightly yellowish liquid, the other with the dried green flakes that remained. Even that dried remnant can be further reprocessed to create ethanol, also used for transportation.

. .

Being a good Samaritan on air quality usually costs a bundle. But Berzin's pitch is one hard-nosed utility executives and climate-change skeptics might like: It can make a tidy profit.

 

"You want to do good for the environment, of course, but we're not forcing people to do it for that reason - and that's the key," says the founder of GreenFuel Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass. "We're showing them how they can help the environment and make money at the same time."

 

GreenFuel has already garnered $11 million in venture capital funding and is conducting a field trial at a 1,000 megawatt power plant owned by a major southwestern power company. Next year, GreenFuel expects two to seven more such demo projects scaling up to a full pro- duction system by 2009

 

= = =

 

International Biofuels Portal - "one stop shop for biodiesel industry, aimed to create better awareness of biodiesel benefits and multiple uses. Biodiesel.pl activities are also devoted to fuel quality assurance in biofuel growing markets, Poland to be a particular case."

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Theres gonna be a whole lot of snake oil salesmen out there.

 

My understanding is that Algae is mostly being looked at for oil production and in reality this is many years from commercial production.

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He does like a bit like he has some snake oil to sell.

But the MIT connection may suggest some seriousness, and he has managed to raise a fair amount

of start-up capital

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