Hydrocarbons from algae identical to conventional fuels !! 3Photon8 Inc., a biofuels startup company headquartered at the UTB-TSC ITEC Center, is announcing another breakthrough in its development of the commercially viable production of biofuel from algae.
Brad Bartilson, the firm?s president and CEO, said Photon8?s scientists have discovered a way around problems associated with ethanol and biodiesel, the two biofuels currently on the market.
Both have to be blended with fossil fuels before they can be burned in engines, but Photon8 has eliminated the need for blending: The company?s scientists have figured out how to produce hydrocarbons from algae that are identical to those from conventional fuels, Bartilson said.
This potentially means less reliance on imported oil in the biofuels production process. This latest development also advances Photon8?s plan to produce jet fuel and diesel fuel, Bartilson said.
Other problems with ethanol, he said, are that it produces a relatively small return for the amount of energy required to produce it. Ethanol production uses a lot of fresh water and creates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and ethanol can?t be transported via the country's pipelines network because it tends to absorb water from the atmosphere.
Despite these and other issues, the corn-based ethanol industry retains a powerful lobby in Congress and has thrived on decades of government subsidies.
'We've been hearing from some analysts concern over future of biodiesel,' Bartilson said.'Personally I think we should be concerned about ethanol more because of the higher fresh-water consumption.'
The latest Photon8 breakthrough came about, he said, as a result of 'somewhat blessed circumstances.' Around the time the company was looking into how to make jet fuel came the realization that the firm's algae cell growth rate was high enough that it could use some of the cells to make hydrocarbons once they'd been milked of oily lipids, an essential ingredient for algae-based biofuel, rather than using the cells exclusively for lipid production.
'We can take our algae oil and the rest of the cell now and make the same carbon chains that constitute diesel fuel and jet fuel and we anticipate gasoline as well,'Bartilson said.
One major potential client for Photon8?s technology is the U.S. military, which is aggressively exploring alternative fuels as a way to offset exorbitant costs. Bartilson noted the Navy and the Air Force have programs in place to attain 50 percent alternative fuel use by 2016.
'There?s a greater variety of products that we?re going to be able to offer. And it fits in with the military?s interest,' he said. 'One of the unique things about our system is it doesn?t need a lot of site prep. We can offer an easy-to-deploy fuel production unit.' Login to Post a Comment