I was thumbing through Time Magazine tonight and stumbled across an article that really caught my attention. The topic was centered around the possibility of producing fuel from growing algae. I was intrigued immediately because algae is voracious. It grows very quickly and carries that lofty possibility of being highly sustainable. If one tenth of New Mexico, the part where no one lives, was converted into an algae farm from which we could attain fuel, it would be enough to sustain the entire United States.
Understandably algae has become the holy grail of the enthusiastic biodiesel community. It is quickly becoming a real hope at a possible resource to make a serious impact on fossil fuel consumption. So far research conducted at Utah State University has show that farmed algae can yield 10,000 gallons per acre.
A joint venture company called Vertigro Energy is growing the oil-rich algae by pumping it through plastic bags suspended in a greenhouse. The algae produced via this process is siphoned off so the lipids can be extracted and refined into a biodiesel fuel. Vertigro’s processing facility is located in El Paso, Texas. According to their Principal Scientist, Glen Kertz, the process can produce 100,000 gallons of oil per acre, per year. When you compare this to ethanol, which I think is a scam and a totally unrealistic fuel source, you see the real potential. Corn only yields about 20 gallons per acre.
I hope we begin pulling our heads, collectively out of our warmongering asses and start pushing some greatly needed funding towards researching alternatives like this. I think we have lost 8 years now fighting pointless wars and throwing money away. It’s time to pull ourselves back together and start taking it to our government to put money towards programs and research like this to start making some serious gains in sustainable energy. I think seeing what has happened to food and gasoline prices this week was a good kick start for the American public. Algae biodiesel isn’t a new idea, it’s been around a while but it is something that needs to be examined and it offers a realistic solution to looming problem that will effect all of us, worldwide.