Sunday, December 2, 2007

Algae Could Drive your Car

Algae has emerged as a potential energy source for your car. Driven by renewed investment as oil prices push $100 a barrel, scientists around the world are racing to turn algae into a commercially viable energy source. Some algae is as much as 50 percent oil that can be converted into biodiesel or jet fuel. The biggest challenge is cutting the cost of production, which by one Defense Department estimate is running more than $20 a gallon. Researchers are trying to figure out how to grow enough of the right strains of algae and how to extract the oil most efficiently. Over the past two years they have received more money from governments, the Pentagon, big oil companies, utilities and venture capital firms. An algae farm could be located almost anywhere. It would not require converting cropland from food production to energy production. It could use sea water (which if you read BGT’s most recent email, the Water Issue, you would know most water on earth is salt water) and could consume pollutants from sewage and power plants. The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is financing research into producing jet fuel from plants, including algae. The agency is already working with the Honeywell subsidiary, General Electric and the University of North Dakota. In November, it requested additional research proposals.

Source: NYTimes

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