Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oil from Algae


72 year old US researcher
can turn algae into fuel

Algae that green, bluegreen, red stuff that causes accidents and annoyance at sea shore, lakes and waterways, has a very useful otherside.

Twenty years ago there was a good deal of research into oil producing algae but it all died down because these was no perceived need for it. Now with the price of a barrel of oil rocketing to well over $100, this old research is getting a quick dust down.

Keith Cooksey’s lab, he is now 72, studied turning algal oil into bio diesel in the 1980s. The U.S. Department of Energy funded their research. There was talk about the big oil companies meddling in the affair.

Algae grows naturally in rivers and lakes, along the seashore, and in stagnant and waste water.

The US government fund report in 1983 stated that oils from microalgae are suitable for refining into conventional liquid fuels. Indeed, in the past, biological oils have been refined to fuels during shortages in petroleum supply.

The research shows that:

  • Soybean can produce approximately 190 Litres of oil per acre per year
  • Canola produces about 490 Litres,
  • Certain types of algae can produce a whacking great 15,000 Litres of oil per acre a year.

With further research and refinement of techniques, this figure can be extended much further. The algae can be grown on waste water from power stations etc and will even continue to grow at below freezing point. The sunnier countries will of course do much better.

This could be a much better way of broducing bio fuels. It is certainly worth some more research.


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