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Hemmers Thinks Algae as most Promising Source

February 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel, Algae-Fuel-Research

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Hemmers is the new director of the Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies at UNLV. The research projects on his resume received more than $6 million in funding. He’s spent time working on high-energy X-ray spectroscopy projects at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

And while Hemmers thinks many technologies will play a role in the United States’ energy future — solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear — the most promising one in the short term is algae. By which he means algae as a source of biodiesel fuel. They would replace crude oil in the chemical industry, fit into our current energy infrastructure with the least disruption and slow greenhouse gas emissions as even cleaner sources of energy are developed.

By comparison, algae are highly efficient, grow quickly and can, best of all, be grown in vats. Hemmers says vats are important because in a vat, with the appropriate tubes and lights, you can transform algae agriculture into an industrial process for producing a highly predictable strain of algae. Maybe even more important, you can provide the perfect mix of light, nutrients and carbon dioxide to double the mass of the algae not every couple of months but every couple of hours.

There are two added bonuses to vats, Hemmers says. You can put them almost anywhere (Nevada would be good, lots of light and a decent temperature) and you can use them to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants (Germany is already doing this with coal plants).

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