Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Algae - A solution?

Algae fuel is a biofuel that has a lot of potential as an alternative to oil, since its efficiency in converting energy to fuel is close to that of petroleum without the carbon output. Its high cost at the moment keep it from being a significant source of energy. It's being researched in other countries as well as in the US. There's also a very interesting report available from the Oilgae site, which goes into the feasibility, costs and business model development for algae fuel.

However, research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that algae production can be energy intensive and can end up emitting more greenhouse gases than it sequesters. This science is in its infancy, and this report is attacked by the Algal Biomass Association as being based upon outdated information. A recently-issued DOE road map marks a return to research on a source of fuel that was once thought too costly; it comes with Federal funding for research, as well.

Not to be left out, ExxonMobil is investing $300 million in Synthetic Genomics to develop algae biofuel. The private sector is definitely moving into this possible energy source in a big way, and teaming up with research labs to move the development of this potential fuel source to the front of the line. This could be a major industrial profit center that would move the United States off of its oil dependency.

Nevertheless, it is possible to obtain instructions for do-it-yourself algae biodiesel at home. A considerable step past composting and greywater; grow your own gas!