NASA scientists from the Moffet Field laboratory in California have proposed an ingenious process to grow algal biofuels in the ocean enclosed within large floating bags made of a special semi-permeable clear plastic membrane. Growing algae in floating bags in the sea solves several major problems that are faced by current land based methods of algal biofuel production in an elegant low energy, low impact manner. This is the kind of out of the box thinking that is needed in order to grow the green economy. Now, in updated news NASA engineers and industry veterans have launched a company, Algae Systems, to commercialize the process.
Algenol Biofuels and DOW Announce Pilot Project to Produce Ethanol from CO2, Salt Water, Sunlight and non-Arable Land
Algenol Biofuels, a Florida biofuels startup and DOW Chemical Company announced a pilot-scale algae-based integrated biorefinery that will convert CO2 into ethanol. The patented technology developed by Algenol Biofuels uses CO2, salt water, sunlight and non-arable land to produce ethanol, which can be used as a fuel or as a feedstock, replacing natural gas in the production of plastic. The algae is grown in long plastic covered troughs, called bioreactors that are filled with salt water that has been saturated with carbon dioxide gas, which provides the carbon the algae needs for photosynthesis.
BIOFUEL UPDATE: Some Biofuels Worse Than Gas for Global Warming; Danforth Science Center Gets $15M in Stimulus for Biofuels; OriginOil Develops Better Way to Get Oil from Algae; FedEx: to Use 30% Biofuels by 2030
In this first post of the BIOFUEL UPDATE — a newly introduced feature of The Green Economy Post — I write about how so called first generation Biofuels such as Corn Ethanol that are derived from food crops or grown on land that otherwise would be used for food crops may be worse for global warming than burning gasoline is! This reconfirms in my mind the pressing need for the biofuel sector to move towards non-food biofuel crops that also are grown on marginal land; crops such as algae, switchgrass, jatropha etc. In other news the Danforth Science Center in Saint Ls. MO gets $15 million in federal funds. Fedex announces plans to get 30% of its fuel from second generation non-food crop biofuels by 2030. OriginOil has developed a simpler and more efficient way to extract oil from algae.