Algae Biofuel: The Oil of the Future?

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There are a lot of innovative ideas coming to light about how to make the automobile and transportation industries more environmentally-friendly. One of the “greenest” ideas, in more ways than one, is the use of algae as a petroleum replacement. I’m not saying that algae would or even could be a complete substitute for petroleum, however it is one of many smart ideas that could help wean us off our dependence on foreign oil.

Image by PMC 1stPix

Now of course hybrids and electric vehicles are a big market right now and rightfully so. However, research into other potentially viable fuel options has brought about the idea of algae as a biofuel.

CNET reports that “Algae biofuels need 10 years of R&D to compete“. Although they do admit that cars and even airplanes can use algae biofuels, but contend that algae biofuels cannot be a viable petroleum competitor at this stage of the game.

The military and government obviously think there is a future in algae fuels for they have started stepping up their use and investment in the petroleum alternative. For example, as part of their push towards sustainability, the U.S. Navy recently ran a successful test on a naval gun boat powered by an algae/diesel fuel mix.

Image courtesy of SolveClimateNews.com

Additionally it looks like algae could play a role in the U.S. Navy’s future:

“The navy plans to roll out its first green strike force, a group of about 10 ships, submarines and planes running on a mix of biofuels and nuclear power, in 2012, with deployment in the field scheduled for 2016.”

The aviation industry is also getting in on the algae action. Earlier this year the World’s First Flight Powered by 100% Algae Biofuels was completed. And recently Cranfield University’s Sea Green Project reported it was accelerating its production of algae for aviation biofuels. Their target is to set up an ocean-based facility and be producing commercial scale volume of bio-jet fuel within three years.

Image by dazzy1960

Another company in the business of turning algae into an environmentally-friendly oil is Southern California based, OriginOil. They claim that with their patent-pending technology they will be able to “provide the world with an endless supply of cost-competitive and environment-friendly oil to displace petroleum“.

Take a look at this CNN interview with OriginOil CEO, Riggs Eckleberry:

Riggs Eckelberry interviewed by CNN’s Ali Velshi from OriginOil on Vimeo.

Additionally, take a look at the following video, “Environmental Entrepreneurs: Firing Up Algae Fuel” and decide for yourself. Could algae biofuels become a viable replacement for petroleum in the near future? Do you think it’s a green, sustainable alternative?

3 Comments

  1. “The use of algae will spell disaster for the oceans and the creatures that live in them because Mankind can do nothing in moderation.”

    – I doubt that, I believe this is an excellent Alternative Fuel. Beats the hell out of Corn or Soybeans. Did you know that this strain of Algae requires only Sunlight, Water(can be waste water) and Carbon Dioxide to grow?? Here’s the kicker.. The by-product from production is good ole’ Oxygen. In goes Carbon Dioxide, out comes Oxygen! Which in return, would also be very helpful in reducing our amount of Carbon emissions into the atmosphere.. Just food for thought..

    Reply
  2. The technology is not going to spell disaster for the oceans at all. It is based on a closed system and will have nothing to do with algae from the oceans. The bio-engineered strains will be suited to produce fuels, petrochemicals or many other by products that currently come from petroleum based sources.

    Reply

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