Last login: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I think we are on the verge of a revolution in biofuels and materials due to algae.
Algae can be made into a variety of biofuels, including biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, and biogas. To add to the conversation, here are some pros and cons to algae as fuel:
PROS:Algae grows in all directionsSingle celled, no superstructure required for algae (roots, trunks, leaves)Growth: 140 days for land crops; algae is year round, mature in 1-2 daysAlgae weathers extreme conditions, is resistant to drought, wind, rainGrow 30-100 x more oil per acre than corn or soybeansNo sulfur, non toxic, biodegradableCan mix with existing fuels in existing vehiclesCan also produce bioplastics, medicine, nutrition, feed, fertilizer, moreCan absorb CO2 and other pollutants from power and cement plants, fossil fuel refining, fermentation based industries, ethanol production, etc
Scale - difficulty replicating lab results into larger volume of production
Growing - using open ponds are easily contaminated, PBR's (photobioreactors) can be expensive
Processing - challenges to harvesting & extracting oil
If chemicals are used to extract oil or process fuel, exhaust can be toxic
Environmental Concerns - in scaled cultivation, especially of GM (genetically modified) algae - what if it seriously disrupts the ecosystem?
Carbon Capture - is it really feasible? Can the algae keep up with the output, and what about during the night when algae is not active? Can the waste be reliably transferred into the algae? Are the right growing conditions and enough land there to cultivate the algae? ("to fully use the emissions from a 50 MWe natural gas fired power plant land would require 2200 acres of algae.") Additional nutrients are required, such as N, P, or K, which must be added in precise amounts and typically come from chemicals like ammonia or nitrate and phosphorous. Taking into consideration all of the processing, is there a net capture of CO2? Also, capturing the emissions it is not true sequestration, as it will be burned again as fuel.
Differing results from strains, environmental conditions, growing systems
To learn how to make algae biofuels, check out:Algae to Biodiesel: http://www.organicmechanic.com/algae-...Algae to Ethanol: http://www.organicmechanic.com/algae-...
For a look at the broad range of goods possible from algae and considerations for how to scale them up into entrepreneurial pursuits, check out Algae Business: http://www.organicmechanic.com/algae-...
Let me know if there are any questions about algae, or equipment to cultivate and use biofuels! Organic Mechanic provides green solutions for electricity, transportation, and agriculture.
February 1, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.
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