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Utah Scientists Join Global-warming Fight with Algae

February 7th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Fuel-Research

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

Utah scientists join global-warming fight

U. of U. looks to burn coal more cleanly; USU goes a dirtier route, hoping to turn pond scum into biodiesel, says this article from Greg Lavine of The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb 2007

Excerpts from the article:

1. At Utah State University, a team hopes to turn substances such as pond scum into biodiesel. One group is trying to make the best of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels; the other anticipates a time when untapped parts of nature can be harvested to produce cleaner fuels.

2. “We can’t replace all of our fossil energy with solar power; that’s not going to resolve the issue,” says a researcher.

3. Coal’s abundance and low cost may make it a bridge to future solutions. Part of the U. team’s goal is to find ways to sequester carbon dioxide, a major culprit in global warming.

4. In traditional coal plants, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, which contributes to the heating of the lower atmosphere. Available technologies turn carbon dioxide into a liquid that can be pumped deep underground for storage.

5. Most coal plants use air to fuel the fires that burn the coal, but the output is a mix of nitrogen and CO2. Nitrogen cannot be turned into a liquid and is not easily removed from the exhaust product. U. researchers want to create coal plants that use pure oxygen to fuel the fire, thus eliminating nitrogen from the output.

6. A USU team is working on a natural fuel source that could help replace fossil fuels – an idea involving growing algae as a way to sequester carbon dioxide streaming from coal-fired power plants. Algae, which grow by photosynthesis, need sunlight, carbon dioxide and nutrients to survive. Funneling the carbon dioxide to mass quantities of pond scum, or other algae, would prevent the carbon from finding its way into the atmosphere, while helping algae grow and ultimately yield oil that can be transformed into biodiesel.

7. Estimates are that 10,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre could be pulled from the right algae farm. Right now, the key is to find algae that grow fast while having enough fat content to create biodiesel, he said. “It’s gonna take us three to five years to really determine whether we can do what we want to do economically,” said the researcher working on the algae-to-fuel idea.

Personalities & organizations mentioned: Adel Sarofim, a U. researcher who is part of the Clean Coal Center; JoAnn Lighty, a U. researcher who oversees several research groups, including the Clean Coal Center; Jost Wendt, who is part of the U.’s Institute for Combustion and Energy Studies; Aneth oil field on the Navajo Reservation in southeastern Utah; Byard Wood;

Full article here

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

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae
Oilgae Blog
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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