Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Algae as a Biofuel

Yesterday I was able to attend a roundtable discussion on algae based technology for performing wastewater treatment and bio-fuel production. This is a process that is currently being explored in Virginia with the anticipation that the whole of the process would:


Provide a renewable biodiesel fuel that would be produced locally and economically competitive with fossil fuels

Provide a fuel that would result in carbon emissions lower than those for fossil fuels, with the aim of producing a zero-net-carbon-emissions-fuel

Become a catalyst for cleaner coastal waters

Be a producer of marketable credits for removal of nutrients and carbon dioxide from discharges and emissions.


The above are paraphrased from the invitation to the discussion, and a very interesting one it was.

As is a common situation I find myself in, just about everyone around the table knew more about the topic than I did. Whether it was the research scientists from WSU, the UWT and North Dakota State, the businesspersons who had already created functioning processes to extract biofuel, the community leaders looking for green solutions or the folks who help to articulate solutions from IP to product they were formidable in their knowledge.

What I enjoyed, was seeing how each mind set and area of expertise fit into the bigger picture of an executable solution at a larger scale. It is the essence of a strong team to bring area experts together for a common goal.

Yesterday was only a discussion but I hope that a project comes from it.

This might be an excellent birds of a feather conversation following the South Sound Technology Conference in November.

The above image was taken from the National Museum of Natural History.

2 comments:

WritersHairClip said...

Yea, I took an Oceanography class this summer and I learned alot about alternative biofuels. Such as hydrogen vents on the ocean floor and just a bunch of crazy stuff. The Ocean has so many resources. It's good to know about it since we live next to the sound.
~Monica

Duathlon Dawg said...

I am also really excited about algae bio-fuel. Way more efficient to produce than all other current bio-fuel options,and even better yet, it can be produced in the middle of the desert(low real estate costs.) Even better than that, it grows in plastic bags that hang vertically so you can build the production facility straight up into the air(even lower real estate costs and smaller environmental impact/footprint). Can't confirm the following, but from what I can gather it also requires very little upkeep. However, probably enough maintenance to encourage some local job growth in these underutilized communities. I can't think of any other proposed alternative fuels that offer so many benefits, and so few associated costs; economically, environmentally, or otherwise. But what do I know, I haven't spoken with many special interest lobbyists lately!
Sound to good to be true? Do yourself a favor and check out YouTube for all kinds of videos about this thought-provoking technology. If that is not enough, last but not least, Boeing and Honeywell are also racing to make algae bio-fuel a reality. Found this out when I recently searched for investment opportunities.