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The key to new energy source lies in algae

January 9th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel

You are at: Oilgae Blog.

Do you know that oil derived from algae is an exciting renewable fuel possibility? – see Oilgae for more.

The key to new energy source lies in algae
By Mark E. Capron, December 18, 2006

Thanks to Tom Catino @ Oil from Algae Yahoo Group for bringing this article to my notice

Re: John Krist’s Dec. 14 essay, “Substituting grass for gas”:

We’re both happy there are places that can afford to grow grass for
fuel. But if global warming and foreign oil were a baseball game,
grass, corn and soybeans are good sacrifice bunts. Unfortunately, we
aren’t noticing the home-run hitter sitting on the bench: algae

— Algae provides two products, food and biodiesel, simultaneously.
Algae farming may be the low-cost, high-nutrition food sought by the
2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In contrast, producing 25-gallons of
corn ethanol destroys a year’s food for one person.

— Corn, grass, soybeans and biomass use water with less than 2,000
parts per millimeter salts. Algae grown in water has zero to 60,000
ppm salts. Saltier water algae are oilier.

— Research from the University of New Hampshire shows algae produces
between 5,000 and 15,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year. (Corn
produces about 350 gpa annually; soybeans about 60.) This means
California could easily grow enough algae to replace all
California’s transportation fuel demand.

— Algae farming works symbiotically with water issues in places like
the Oxnard Plain and the Salton Sea to be an environmental
mitigation and to produce funds to pay for maintaining other

These four reasons provide a nexus for state and federal funding to
resolve Oxnard Plain, Salton Sea, Owens Lake and Westlands Water
District issues. The reasons indicate investing in algae farming
will yield more energy, more quickly than hydrogen or ethanol,
particularly in climates like California’s.

A challenge would be a very quick and efficient means to move algae
farming from small demonstrations to large scale. There are issues
to resolve before large scale (1,000-plus acres) algae farms become
economically viable. Algae in open ponds lose a lot of water because
of evaporation, making it difficult to provide a consistent salinity
content. It is difficult to mix the necessary nutrients in shallow
ponds. The highest-yield algae strains are often overwhelmed by
other algae and bacteria. The algae require a constant supply of
carbon dioxide.

Ventura County is an ideal location for the challenge. The challenge
site could be within bicycle distance of CSU Channel Islands while
also only an hour from UC Santa Barbara. There are flat agricultural
areas near 400 acres of duck ponds between Oxnard and Point Mugu
that would benefit from agriculture that did not require ground
water. Agricultural drainage water, in need of nutrient removal
treatment, is available. (The algae will turn nutrients to energy,
and perhaps recycle or decompose other constituents of agricultural
drainage.) A large supply of brackish water that may benefit from
additional treatment will shortly be available from the Calleguas
Creek Brine Line.

The challenge would allocate aspiring algae farmers a plot of land
for side-by-side demonstrations. The winning farmer will produce
biodiesel and food while removing pollutants from desalting brines
and agriculture runoff with the most cost-effective process. The top
prize should be on the order of $1 million. Each 10-acre
demonstration should produce on the order of 100,000 gallons of
biodiesel per year and a similar volume of animal feed while
cleaning millions of gallons of agricultural drainage and brackish

— Mark E. Capron, of Ventura, is a professional engineer with the
Ventura Regional Sanitation District.

See also:

Small algae with great potential

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae
Oilgae Blog
algOS – Biodiesel from Algae Open Source

About Oilgae – Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae has a focus on biodiesel production from algae while also discussing alternative energy in general. Algae present an exciting possibility as a feedstock for biodiesel, and when you realise that oil was originally formed from algae – among other related plants – you think “Hey! Why not oil again from algae!”

To facilitate exploration of oil production from algae as well as exploration of other alternative energy avenues, Oilgae provides web links, directory, and related resources for algae-based biofuels / biodiesel along with inputs on new inventions, discoveries & breakthroughs in other alternative energy domains such as solar, wind, nuclear, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen & fuel cells, gravitational, geothemal, human-powered, ocean & wave / tidal energy. We hope Oilgae proves to be useful as a research information & inputs resources, and as a source of news & info for business & trade of algal oil, algal fuels & new alternative energy products – specially with regard to new feedstock / feedstocks, production processes and uses, and market info such as price / prices, data & statistics

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