Posts Tagged ‘Renewable Jet Fuel’
Have you ever gone fishing only to discover that your favorite fishing hole was over grown with algae? Well now that same green algae can power jet turbine engine or diesel engine trucks. That’s right the algae grown in ponds can be converted to oil and the oil refined into Biofuels for jet aircraft and automobiles.
Algae have the potential to evolve into a mainstream fuel feedstock. Algae are not a food crops, they grow fast and algae remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the air.
Algae are not a food crops and there has been a huge debate and more focus on the food vs. fuel question. Some critics say agricultural based crops are not sustainable as a fuel source. Corn and Soybeans are being used currently as Biofuel which some say are the blame for higher food prices. For example; some waste collections companies have seen the cost of WVO (Waste vegetable oil) or yellow grease increase to an all time high worth as much as $3.50 cents per gallon. Hey!! Correct me if my math is a little off, but isn’t that almost the same price as a gallon of diesel fuel? Algae farms can produce 100 times more oil per acre than traditional oil crops (such as soy oil), which can be converted to Biodiesel.
Algae grow fast. Algae can be grown especially well in desert states that have plenty of sunshine and access to water unusable for drinking. Because of the high salt content in algae, saltwater can be used more economically than fresh water for optimal growth. Meaning our sunny southern states with saline aquifers will make fast and efficient locations to grow algae on commercial farms.
Algae remove massive amounts of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) from the air. Algae farms are glutton eaters of CO2 gas providing a means for recycling waste carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion. It is possible to sequester as much as one billion tons of CO2 per year from algae farms. The United States has one energy plant that produces 25.3 millions tons of CO2 by itself. This new technology has attracted companies that need inexpensive CO2 sequestration solutions. Algae was responsible for creating the Earth’s oxygen atmosphere three billion years ago and it took around two billion years to form the modern atmosphere with 20 percent oxygen. Without algae we would not be here.
Algae Biofuel will play a very important part in meeting the worlds growing energy need, Algae has a place in not only our past, but in our future as well.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) helped to develop the internet and satellite navigation systems, has taken industry insiders by surprise. A cheap, low-carbon fuel would not only help the US military, the nation’s single largest consumer of energy, to wean itself off its oil addiction, but would also hold the promise of low-carbon driving and flying for all.
Darpa’s research projects have already extracted oil from algal ponds at a cost of $2 per gallon. It is now on track to begin large-scale refining of that oil into jet fuel, at a cost of less than $3 a gallon, according to Barbara McQuiston, special assistant for energy at Darpa. That could turn a promising technology into a market-ready one. Researchers have cracked the problem of turning pond scum and seaweed into fuel, but finding a cost-effective method of mass production could be a game-changer. “Everyone is well aware that a lot of things were started in the military,” McQuiston said.
Never underestimate the ability of the not-so-sexy solutions–algae grown and turned into fuel, flywheels or pumped storage to help time shift supply to better meet electricity demand, taking simple efficiency steps, etc.–to deliver some impressive contributions to our energy and environmental challenges once we feel sufficient urgency to take them. In fact, I expect algae fuel to play a much bigger part in our future transportation alternatives than the car companies’ (and semi-informed technophile’s) favorite hobby horse, hydrogen.
As for the claim of $3/gallon jet fuel from algae in “just months”, consider me highly skeptical, to put it mildly. I’m sure that the claim is a reference to being able to hit that price point, not real world production in any significant quantity. Even so, it’s one hell of a claim, and it’s either a gross overstatement of what DARPA’s been up to, or it’s a revelation that they’ve pulled a techno-rabbit out of their hat.