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Algae to Crude Oil: Million-year Natural Process Takes Minutes in the Lab


nucklehead

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The quest for alternative fuels takes an interesting turn.

Engineers have created a continuous chemical process that produces useful crude oil minutes after they pour in harvested algae — a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup.

The research by engineers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was reported recently in the journalAlgal Research. A biofuels company, Utah-based Genifuel Corp., has licensed the technology and is working with an industrial partner to build a pilot plant using the technology.

In the PNNL process, a slurry of wet algae is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Once the system is up and running, out comes crude oil in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae.

With additional conventional refining, the crude algae oil is converted into aviation fuel, gasoline or diesel fuel. And the waste water is processed further, yielding burnable gas and substances like potassium and nitrogen, which, along with the cleansed water, can also be recycled to grow more algae.

Several companies have produced algae-based fuels on a research scale, the fuel is projected to be expensive. The PNNL technology harnesses algae's energy potential efficiently and incorporates a number of methods to reduce the cost of producing algae fuel.

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next head line should be "Bought out by Esso for 7 billion dollars.....after further examination the process doesn't work"

Im sure Exxon would be quite happy to add algae fuel to their petrolium product line.

Problem is that the more ways we find to continue getting gas/oil/coal from the planet the longer we are going to be tied to burning fossil fuels for our energy needs.

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Alternative fuel? I guess... but it still doesn't solve the environmental reason behind alternative fuels. It's definitely more environmentally friendly than off shore oil rigging and tar sands, though. Would much rather have oil companies use this algae to crude oil innovation than the traditional ways.

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"the fuel is projected to be expensive"

Why? Why would it be "expensive"? Sounds like it should be cheaper - oh wait, they have to make a profit of billions of dollars a quarter to keep up with the banks.

Could be that the amount of energy required for the process is more than the amount of energy that's created. Or it's just simply not economically feasible if it costs more to produce than what it can sell for.

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Would they not need big ass facilties to harvest enough for our gas consumption? Probably have to ruin a lot of wilderness/nature as per usual

Pretty much this, then they'll make billions off the product and advertise we are getting the price-quality ratio / bang for buck out there...ahh life :rolleyes:

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