Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's Invest in Algae Plants

In the October 2007 National Geographic, there was an article on bio fuel. It discussed the pluses and minuses of each source including the energy balance (how much fossil-fuel input is required to produce the bio fuel output.)

Corn-based Ethanol is one of the worst. We only do it here because of the agriculture lobby. It is ignorant policy. Sugar cane, abundant in Brazil, provide a better yield. Palm oil, as found in SE Asia is better still. But the best is algae.

I know the science is still a work in progress, but a closed loop algae reactor has the potential of being the key to our energy independence.

Oilgae provides a good algae energy tutorial. Solix Biofuels and GreenFuel Technologies are among several startups betting their futures on the photosynthetic powers of unicellular algae.

Valcent has a closed-loop photosynthesis bioreactor (high density vertical reactor). It claims it can tailor the algae carbon chains into specific bio fuels -- jet fuel, diesel, gasoline -- with low CO2 emissions. Its three minute video claims the algae can produce as many as 20,000 barrels of oil each year from one acre of land (in a vertical reactor). Compare this to corn (18 gallons/acre) and palm oil (750 barrels/acre).

They claim if we dedicated one-tenth of the state of New Mexico to a series of closed-loop algae reactors, it would address all of America's energy needs.

Certain more intriguing than some of the alternatives.

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