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.