Will Rhodes: Algae – a Possible Fuel Source? (Guest Entry)

Will Rhodes is a blogger who has volunteered to write a couple of stories for my blog while I’m on vacation. His excellent blog is at http://willrhodesportmanteau.com/. Check it out!

Algae – a possible fuel source?

For some time now scientists have been looking for an alternative for fossil fuels. Some are more bizarre than others but one that keeps cropping up is algae, but why?

Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day, producing oil in the process — 30 times more oil per acre than soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Like soybean oil, the algae oil can be burned directly in diesel engines or further refined into biodiesel.

Some of the most barren regions of the world, let alone the US, could be used to produce the algae. This has a second, and quite fruitful, second-hand effect – it doesn’t have to take up farm land for food. Both farms for food and agriculture can flourish and the alternative we need can be grown in the middle of the Sahara if needs be. For such a long time people have wondered if the deserts of the world can be utilized and this could well be it.

University of Virginia researchers have a plan to greatly increase algae oil yields by feeding the algae extra carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) and organic material like sewage, meaning the algae could simultaneously produce biofuel and clean up environmental problems.

“We have to prove these two things to show that we really are getting a free lunch,” said Lisa Colosi, a U.Va. professor of civil and environmental engineering who is part of the interdisciplinary research team.

If a significant amount of investment can be procured for such development we as a planet could see an environmental revolution in just a few years.

Original Article

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