Friday, May 30, 2008

Really Green Energy

Wired dot com is once again covering oil from algae. This post was prompted by a press release from Sapphire Energy who have announced that they have managed to produce 91 octane fuel from their process. The exact process is being kept under wraps but the overall costs for starting up the facilities for doing this will run about the same as what would be spent on deep sea drilling or even a tar sands operation. That is a hefty price tag but the trade off is possible carbon neutrality which will go a long ways in helping developing countries clean up their act.

Company scientists have built a platform that uses sunlight, CO2, photosynthetic microorganisms and non-arable land to produce carbon-neutral alternatives to petrochemical-based processes and products. First up: renewable gasoline. Critically important, in light of recent studies that prove the inefficiencies and costs of crop-based biofuels, there is no ‘food vs. fuel’ tradeoff. The process is not dependent on food crops or valuable farmland, and is highly water efficient. “It’s hard not to get excited about algae’s potential,” said Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy “Its basic requirements are few: CO2, sun, and water. Algae can flourish in non-arable land or in dirty water, and when it does flourish, its potential oil yield per acre is unmatched by any other terrestrial feedstock.”

Other links:
Algae: Power Plant of the Future?