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Making Biofuel from Pond Scum

January 26th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel, Algae-Energy-Products

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

Making Biofuel from Pond Scum – by Shelley Schlender, 26 Jan 2006


1. Oil-rich plants such as soy may offer a cleaner energy alternative to diesel fuel, but Jim Sears, a Colorado-based entrepreneur says these food crops can’t meet all our diesel needs.
2. “Right now,” [Sears] points out, “if we were to use all the normal sources we know about, such as canola oil, soy, things like this to make biodiesel, the industry thinks they could make 3.7 billion liters a year. That sounds like a lot, but Americans currently use 227 billion liters of diesel a year.”
3. Fortunately, algae could produce 100 times more biodiesel per hectare than either canola or soy. It can thrive in places where other crops can’t grow at all, and it only requires the equivalent of 5 centimeters of rain a year.
4. CSU and Sears’ small company, Solix Biofuels, have teamed up for this oil from algae research.
5. The strain used by Sears’ company (Solix Biofuels) produces enormous amounts of fat: up to 50 percent of its body weight.
6. While producing oil from soy or canola generally requires a three to five-month growing season, some algae are so prolific, over half a batch can be harvested for oil production every day.
7. “Actually we wouldn’t have to convert any of our arable land,” [Sears] observes. “We could use desert land to grow this algae. It doesn’t require good soil. Just flat land, carbon dioxide and sunlight.”
8. Making biofuel from algae is a truly carbon-neutral technology. “It’s essentially solar powered fuel.”
9. Eric Jarvis, a scientist at NREL cautions that it may take longer than expected to see algal biodiesel on a commercial scale. “I wouldn’t expect it to meet a large demand for diesel in that (short) time frame, but I’m hoping to see some good demonstration projects in the next 5 to 10 years.”
10. The National Renewable Energy Lab plans to step up their development of biodiesel from algae within the year, and they estimates that along with Colorado State and Solix Biofuels, roughly a dozen other groups around the world are developing similar projects, increasing the likelihood that soon, algae biodiesel will be the fuel of choice for trucks, boats & trains…

Personalities & organizations mentioned: Jim Sears of Solix Biofuels, Bryan Willson, who directs this Engines and Energy Conversion Lab at Colorado State University, Eric Jarvis, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

Nature gave us oil from algae; perhaps we should try Nature’s way again

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae
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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!”

The objective of Oilgae is to facilitate exploration of oil production from algae as well as exploration of other alternative energy avenues.

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