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5 Issues with Algae Fuels 3

1. The present cost of algae production from open ponds is too high to make fuel production economically viable.

2. Photobioreactors (PBRs) are too expensive.

3. The energy inputs into the algae production process are very high.

4. Some algae don?t need sunlight, and can produce oil in a fermentor.

5. Don?t believe the cited per acre yields that some proponents claim.

This is from an article by Robert Rapier

His conclusion is that with the possible exception of the fermentation approaches, the issues that caused NREL to abandon algae in the mid 1990?s are still pressing issues today.

Robert Rapier sees very little likelihood that companies basing their plans on either open pond systems or photobioreactors can be successful without heavy, perpetual doses of government funding.

He predicts that the Algae is still a lab project for the most part, and companies that have moved to commercialize it presently have little chance of economic viability.

However, having said that, Robert Rapier thinks that there are some niches in which it might eventually work, and I do favor spending research money in the hopes that in 10 or 15 years, commercialization is a realistic goal.



Thu May 20 2010 02:42:59 PM by Manohar 5 issues with algal fuel 1095 views

Comments - 3

  • Sat May 22 2010 07:54:41 AM

    Manohar, This is a good post on the article by Robert Rapier. What I don't see in his article about NREL is that they were govt. operated.....
    if there is a way to screw something up, the govt.
    will be the first to do it. Case in point. Where did they locate the NREL labs? In the desert of S.W. United States. You don't have to know too much about algae to realize that a desert is the wrong place to grow algae. Here are just some of the reasons:
    1. Too hot in the day, too cold at night. Algae do NOT like big temperature swings.
    2. Sun is way too bright for maximum algae production. Algae will be happiest at about 25% of amount of photons put out by bright desert sun between 9:30 and 2:30.
    3. For the most part they were using a ditch/raceway system.....water evaporation was very high.....water is not easy to come by in a desert.....salt build up in the ponds had to be a big problem.

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  • Sat May 22 2010 07:59:23 AM

    CONTINUED; Manohar,


    Good Luck Joe Ortiz!

    Alan Schaefer

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  • Manohar wrote:
    Mon May 24 2010 04:18:33 AM

    It would be great to have Joe Ornitz who is also a member of our club, to answer this. Because his company has taken over the labs and fields of

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