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Algae – boon to farmers and a solution to global warming

You are at: Oilgae Blog.

CSIRO scientists are putting the humble algae to work as a source of biodiesel and the signs are very promising. With algae made up of a third oil, a third carbohydrate and a third protein, it was an ideal raw material for producing biodiesel and ethanol.

Dr Beer said theoretically all of Australia’s diesel supplies could be produced from ponds covering just 10,000 hectares. The study found the establishment of a 500-hectare algal biodiesel plant in a rural area might create up to 45 jobs and provide opportunities to diversify in the agricultural sector.

While the technology was relatively simple, more research was needed, Dr Beer said.The next step was to build a pilot plant to see if the concept was commercial and viable and at what prices.

Like any crop, more work was also needed to identify the best species of algae to use and the conditions required for maximum yield. One challenge was to work out how to prevent other less productive algae taking over a pond, Dr Beer said.

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One Response to “Algae – boon to farmers and a solution to global warming”

  1. John Benemann Says:

    Please stop this nonsense. CSIRO did NOT say that algae could supply all fuel needs of Australia on 10,000 hectares. Their study was highly theoretical based on a prior U.S. 1996 study (which I did see below) which was a "what could we due in the best of all possible worlds" not what can be done in the present one. The value of such studies, such as there may be, is to show how far (not how close) we are from the goal and what LONG-TERM R&D would be needed and could be justified to get us there. So PLEASE, don't buy anything on this website as gospel truth, the reality is that we are a long, long way from reality.
    Cheers, John Benemann
    PS You can check the following websites for relevant reports, all of which I was the principal author and/or investigator on (also listed some presentations available on the web).

    SOME REPORTS BY THE AUTHOR AVAILABLE ON THE WEB

    Benemann, J.R. ; Goebel, R.P. ; Weissman, J.C. ; Augenstein, D.C. 1982. “Microalgae as a source of liquid fuels”. Final technical report USDOE –OER http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=0&page=0&osti_id=6374113

    Benemann J.R. and W.J. Oswald. Final Report to US DOE NETL, 1996 ”Systems and Economic analysis of microalgae ponds for conversion of CO2 to biomass” At: http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/493389-FXQyZ2/webviewable/493389.pdf

    Benemann, J.R., 2002 “A Technology Roadmap for Greenhouse Gas Abatement with Microalgae”. Report to the U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme, http://www.co2captureandstorage.info/networks/Biofixation.htm

    Sheehan, J., Dunahay, T., Benemann, J., Roessler, P., Weissman, J. 1998. “Look Back at the U.S. Department of Energy's Aquatic Species Program: Biodiesel from Algae; Close-Out Report”. NREL Report No. TP-580-24190 http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf

    SOME PRESENTATIONS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB

    Benemann, J., “Open ponds and Closed Photobioreactors – Comparative Economics” 5th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing, April 30, 2008 Chicago, Illinois.
    http://www.bio.org/ind/wc/08/breakout_pdfs/20080430/Track1_ContinentalA/Session9_230p400pm/Benemann_Continental_A_Wed.pdf

    Benemann, J., “Overview: Algae Oil to Biofuels”, NREL-AFOSR Workshop, Algae Oil for Jet Fuel Production, Arlington, VA, February 19, 2008, http://www.nrel.gov/biomass/pdfs/benemann.pdf

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