Untapped Algae-Energy Research by AXI and Others Goes Global

By August 19, 2008 3 comments

Biofuels can be produced by any number of oil- or sugar-producing plants. Switchgrass, wood chips, and sugarcane have all had turns being the new buzz in the alternate fuels market. A new contender joins the scene, potentially cheaper and more efficient: algae. Still in the experimental stage, there are several companies and several methods being developed to harness the power of microalgae, the "original oil producer." Why original? Crude oil's most significant source is the fossilized remains of algae bodies. Today's developers are faced with the task of speeding up a process that until now has taken millions of years. Whether grown outside in ponds or in labs fed on sugar, that process can be truncated to several days. The genetic strains undergo directive evolution by specialized, hybrid

breeding.

Algae is the best potential source for vegetable fuel because it doubles its body mass in a few hours, absorbing greenhouse gases as it does so, and when burned releases relatively low levels of pollutants.

Currently, research is not providing the billion-barrel levels that oil companies reckon with, but is projected to reach 100 million gallon-level productivity by 2010, according to Lissa Norgenthaler-Jones, CEO of LiveFuels, Inc. In the meantime, this high-quality, cheaper source of energy is being tested in production for biodiesel, rocket-fuel, industrial chemicals and plastics.

Seattle's AXI, San Francisco's Solazyme, and Cambridge's Greenfuel Technologies, among others, have algae-energy programs . Brazil joined the scene last week to invest in this next arena of untapped renewable energy sources. The Brazilian government currently obtains bio-diesel from "oil-producing plants such as castor, sunflower, soy, and palm and is a world leader in ethanol from sugar cane" according to South Atlantic News Agency MercoPress .
View more articles in the Green Environment category

Page top

3 Comments

Interesting. I wonder how efficient alge is in terms of converting x amount to y energy. If the yield is high then I'm happy to see potential for a cleaner and potentially more accessible form of biofuel for the future.

Submitted by Yuurei (not verified) - on August 19, 2008 at 02:31 pm

Hooray!

Fossilized algae bodies are our friends!

Submitted by Alex (not verified) - on August 19, 2008 at 05:22 pm

I am so glad to see companies really starting to persue bio fuel technology in a serious manner. I am in favor of looking at all sources from corn to prarie grass to algea. The united states needs to come up with an alternative to fossil fuel oil and quickly. It means everything to the enviornment, world politics, and national security. Lets hope they can develop ways to multiply and manufacture biofuels in the near future. It would solve alot of problems!

John
http://weirdsciencekids.com

Submitted by John (not verified) - on December 02, 2008 at 01:49 pm

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas