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philosopher's avatar

What do you think? Could we really pressure cook algae into Bio Fuel?

Asked by philosopher (9152points) April 26th, 2010

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It sounds like a great alternative energy source if it really works. Would it?

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9 Answers

kfingerman's avatar

Algae is a major player right now in the “build the next biofuel” game. There are lots of technologies in existence from simply growing oil-heavy algae that can be pressed for their oil to make biodiesel, to engineering bigger, better, oil-excreting species’, to work like this, making artificial hydrocarbons from the algae biomass. There’s a lot of this going on at a lab bench scale. Somewhat less at a test-facility scale. And so far, nothing at anything near an industrial scale, though there are a lot of venture capitalists betting the farm on it. The problem is one of price. No one has gotten close to the price of petroleum from algae, so unless someone comes up with a much cheaper tech, or gas prices rise (perhaps from a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system?), we’re not going to see this at scale. If those things do happen, there are other alternative liquid fuels also lined up to compete with algae to be the fuel of the future.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Its my understanding that it works perfectly well, its just economically viable right now so big companies will never go for it,

Nullo's avatar

It would have to create more energy than it takes to produce, otherwise it’s not going to be cost-effective.

philosopher's avatar

Thank you for the information.

Coloma's avatar

Of course!

My ex husband had algae for brains and I pressure cooked him into rocketing out of my universe. lol

gorillapaws's avatar

@Nullo is exactly right. This is really the critical component to judging the viability of a technology. The good news is that algae get much of their energy from the sun, so they’re theoretically a bit like organic solar cells. I’m not sure if algae will evolve faster than solar technology, but it should be interesting to see progress.

Nullo's avatar

@gorillapaws My money’s on fusion. It’s like algae, but with 75% less hippy.
More hippy? I didn’t read the article.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Nullo fusion? surely you mean fission?

Nullo's avatar

@gorillapaws No, fusion. We already have fission, and while I do enjoy the paroxysms that the greenie crowd exhibits when talk comes around to fission, I’m not terribly keen on a system whose by-products will only be safe to be around thousands of years hence.

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