Green Gold: Algae, Possibly The Next Popular Biofuel
December 9, 2008 10:00 AM
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Algae used a biofuel is inching closer to reality
As companies look for alternative fuels to help ease the world's reliance on oil, researchers and companies have created several viable alternatives.
The aerospace industry hopes
algae can be refined
and used to help fuel commercial airliners and jets. In the short term, it's likely algae would be mixed with gasoline and diesel, though it's possible algae could be used to eliminate both resources at some point.
Select Boeing aircraft will use a mix of jet fuel and fuel made from algae and jatropha seeds, Boeing said. Continental Airlines will be the first airline company to use algae as a fuel, with Air New Zealand and others expected to begin testing algae or jatropha-based technologies.
Continental's first demonstration flight is expected to take place in Houston on Jan. 7, though the flight
will not carry passengers
and use a blend of jet fuel with algae and jatropha.
Even with the backing of Boeing and other aerospace giants, algae supporters must now request the federal government give them loans, research and development backing, tax breaks, and other similar perks that corn and soybean researchers are actively receiving.
"We are up against formidable opposition from competing interests," said Jason Pyle, Sapphire Energy CEO. Sapphire Energy has created a new "green crude" gasoline that is entirely made up of algae.
Algae for use as a biofuel has been more widely researched in the past few years, and it seems like it will continue to be a popular topic.
The Colorado Field Institute (CFI) will host a biotech meeting with Colorado State University to discuss the use of algae as a biofuel later this week. The focus of the meeting is the use of a
in rural Colorado.
Researchers will continue to look for alternatives to gas, but even with major research breakthroughs, it's unlikely the heavy U.S. reliance on foreign oil will end any time soon. Ethanol, a popular technology that still receives major research,
caused the cost of food to soar
, and much work will have to be done in order to
make ethanol a more viable solution
or to develop a satisfactory alternative.
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RE: This or hydrogen
12/9/2008 3:04:37 PM
So essentially this. I think H2 is a red herring as far as fuels of the future go, its out there to muddy the waters and distract from real development.
One of the other numerous benefits to the algae fuel generation is the energy intensive "cracking" process that occurs on diesel and aviation fuel from oil are not required for algae->fuel processes.
To me the energy future seems obvious - algae supplementing and eventually replacing oil for aviation, diesel, and other products where plug-in hybrids don't make sense.
RE: This or hydrogen
12/9/2008 3:07:51 PM
Plug in hybrids don't make sense period. Instead of burning gas you're instead using batteries that wear out and are toxic. Do we really want billions of batteries being thrown out every 7-10 years?
RE: This or hydrogen
12/9/2008 5:47:39 PM
The batteries can be recycled - put to other uses. Even after a battery is "worn out" after 7-10 years, they can still retain 60-80% of their original charge capacity. The Altairnano batteries get around 10,000 cycles before the battery is at 80%. At 2 cycles per day, thats 13 years. From there, they're still useful and can go into grid backup, replacing generators or backing up renewable energy. They'll find other ways to be used. Short of an energy storage miracle, batteries from Volt wont be in the landfill anytime in the next 20 years.
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