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Blogs under tag Algae Biofuel

Does Expanding Biofuel Production Make Sense? Posted by RobertTulip on Wed September 22 2010 05:00:20 AM 5

New World Bank Research Paper

The expansion makes sense in some, but not all, cases, according to a new working paper by Govinda Timilsina and Ashish Shrestha of the World Bank. The case is strongest in countries with a surplus of unused land and a developed biofuel industry. Second-generation biofuels, such as ethanol made from cellulosic biomass, may offer more economic and environmental benefits in the future. But they are facing serious technical and economic hurdles right now and would still compete with the food supply for available land. Already, a hot debate has focused on what impact expanded biofuel production had on the 2007-2008 global food crisis. Estimates of the impact vary greatly, but it's clear that biofuel production contributed to higher food prices. In addition, an expansion of biofuel production would reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it doesn't involve converting carbon-rich forests to cropland. Otherwise, any large-scale expansion of biofuels would cause a net increase of greenhouse gas emissions for many years.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5364


"The use of microalgae for biodiesel production appears to be a very promising future technology (Christi, 2008) since 80% or more of the dry weight of algae biomass, compared to 5% for some food crops, may be retrieved as oil for some species (Christi, 2007). They also create little pressure on arable land because they can be cultivated in a wide variety of conditions, even in salt water and water from polluted aquifers (GBEP, 2008)."

"While micro-algae is projected as a future source for biodiesel, production cost is still extremely high, in the range of US$2 to US$22 per liter (Pate and Hightower, 2008). Making algae a viable commercial option will require further improvements in genetic and metabolic engineering to produce higher yielding and hardier strains. Although economies of scale in production could lower the cost, it is challenging to increase the yield to a level that ensures micro-algae based biodiesel is competitive with other biodiesel technologies. Nevertheless, the feasibility of biodiesel production from micro-algae can be expedited if large-scale production facilities can be integrated with other processes, such as wastewater treatment and utilization of carbon dioxide from power plants (USAID, 2009)."

Adam Smith and Economies of Scale for Algae Production Posted by RobertTulip on Tue September 07 2010 12:38:57 AM 39

Action at the individual level will not stop global warming. Only large scale intervention with economies of scale will have real impact. A good explanation of why this is so was foreshadowed by Adam Smith in The_Wealth_of_Nations with his example of a pin factory. Individuals can make pins in home based workshops, but coordinating their efforts in factories will result in far more efficient and effective production. Taking this insight into the modern context of new technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, we can see that home based algae farms could well be a useful way to treat domestic waste water and make useful products, but if we want to use algae to regulate the climate then we have to operate on a global scale. This will mean building algae farms at sea on a scale of many square kilometers. My rough calculation is that farms covering an area of 500,000 square kilometers, 0.1% of the world ocean, would be big enough to make a dent in emission trajectories while also producing a workable quick replacement for fossil fuel.

What can we realistically expect re global warming Posted by RobertTulip on Fri August 13 2010 11:14:29 AM 5

From http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/106405-What-can-we-realistically-expect-re-global-warming?p=1774441#post1774441

OP question: "Given that there is no prospect of a political settlement over global warming, can we expect civilisation to end by 2100? Will science find a way to make the world liveable? Will the worst case scenario be the best fit scenario, or will the results be more mild then we expected?"

My comment: "A political settlement may not be the key factor. The Kyoto Protocol did not even slow the increase of emissions, and was more about being seen to respond than actually delivering anything to mitigate climate change. Similar criticism applies to the Copenhagen conference.

Reducing annual global emissions from 30 billion tons to 25 billion tons would deliver maybe a few years before a dangerous tipping point is reached. Emission reduction of this scale is essentially pointless, merely slowing an impending crisis. The real question is whether and how energy supply can be transformed globally in a way that would push CO2 concentrations downward.

Regarding sceptic views on a tipping point, the issue is the extreme rapid geological speed of increase, not whether we can stoically imagine life continuing in a high CO2 atmosphere. Of course life could survive an experimental quadrupling of CO2, just as 5% of organisms survived the Permian catastrophe, but that is hardly an optimal model.

The OP asks "can science find a way to make the world liveable?" The task here is to find a way to stabilise and reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Geological sequestration of CO2 is too expensive, and does not turn CO2 into a valuable commodity. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is more a way to achieve environmental goals under the guise of a climate objective. Nuclear power is a valuable stopgap, but will only deliver a fraction of the required change in energy system.

The question, assuming we desire to return the planet to a 250 ppm CO2 state, is whether there is any way to suck CO2 out of the air and sea on a scale approaching 50 billion tons per year, assuming we continue to emit 30 billion tons, and whether such change can be made politically attractive by being self-financing and ecologically beneficial.

As far as I can see, large scale algae production is the only feasible answer. If algae can fix 100 tons of CO2 per hectare per year, then algae farms covering one percent of the world ocean (ie five million square kilometres) will be needed to stabilise the world climate. Such farms would be more than ?bandaids on Gaia?, as they would produce a wide range of valuable commodities. Enough of the produced carbon could remain unburned, in the form of fertilizer, fish food, plastics and carbon blocks, to have material impact on climate stability. If we can work out how to build infrastructure such as roads and buildings out of carbon sourced from algae, we may be able to use a commercial market system to stabilise the world climate."

Strategic path for the development of microalgal bio-diesel in China Posted by RobertTulip on Fri August 06 2010 12:28:27 AM 14

Preliminary draft paper for comment

Abstract: The use of liquid fossil fuel is limited by the declining petroleum reserves in the earth's crust and the need to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide level. To supply energy for development in a low-emission economy, bio-energy is required. Guangxi Province can be a leader for China in biofuel. Guangxi already has the largest ethanol production plants in China, but substitution of biofuel for diesel is stalled. We propose that investment in microalgae should be the main energy focus, aiming at producing 500 million tons of bio-diesel per year to replace China's current fossil fuel use for liquid energy supply. Algae biofuel is likely to be the best and only practical source for energy security and stability in many market segments. Algae biofuel also has spillover benefits for climate, environment, economic growth and food supply. The Government of China should support algae biodiesel research and development on industrial scale.

Algae Biofuel within the decade Posted by RobertTulip on Tue July 20 2010 12:42:59 AM 1

On 25 May 1961, US President John Kennedy told Congress that America would put a man on the moon within the decade. Through vision and resources and ingenuity it happened.

Peak oil and global warming mean the world has to shift to algae biodiesel before 2020. With vision and resources and ingenuity the world can shift to a sustainable energy economy in five years.

Security of global energy and climate is more important than the moon shot. Sustainable energy is the basis of human global security. Algae is the only source of liquid fuel that can maintain economic activity on current projected scale.

Large scale algae production is essential to stabilise the climate and sequester carbon, and can do so through a sustainable market based solution, as long as governments take a lead as they did with the internet.

The USA has previously addressed large scale programs with the Manhattan Project, the Apollo Space Program, and the internet. A similarly large transformative and innovative program is needed for climate and energy security through algae biofuel.

Kennedy speech
http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical Resources/Archives/Reference Desk/Speeches/JFK/Urgent National Needs Page 4.htm

NASA Moon Speeches