Algae: Green Gold
15 Sep 2008
Good news – newly grown, compressed algae produces virtually the same oil as fossil fuels and is a product that can be used to power existing systems.
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Our dwindling and polluting crude oil is mainly the product of algae and millions of years of heat and compression. The good news is that newly grown, compressed algae produces virtually the same oil and it is a liquid that can be used to power every system set up to facilitate fossil fuel oil. In short, the infrastructure for this new fuel is already in place and furthermore, extensive research indicates that algae oil is the most viable option in replacing our dependence on fossil fuels.
Algae oil burns clean, with no greenhouse gas release because, unlike fossil fuels, it has no carbon attached. In fact, algae eat carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. This means that the carbon output from existing power plants can be used to grow it in adjacent tanks, turning the carbon dioxide into useful algae oil. This is already happening in Israel, where eight algae ponds are fed carbon dioxide from a power plant’s smokestack. It can also be harvested from polluted water, cleaning the environment in the process. Aquaflow Bionomics of New Zealand has already produced economic biofuel in that way.
Algae can be grown on a large scale, harvested and refined at a high oil yield per mass. It is estimated that up to 100,000 litres of biodiesel a year per hectare of land can be produced, compared to 6,000 litres of palm oil, currently the most productive biofuel. It has also been further estimated that all of the USA’s oil needs could be provided from algae cultivation on 0.2 per cent of its landmass. Europe’s needs would be less than that. However, because it can be grown in salt water and sewage water, algae need not compete with food crops for either agricultural land or fresh water. The grow anywhere’ capability means that regions can become self-sufficient in algae oil. This will resolve dependency on foreign oil supplies that has led to uncontrollable prices and aggressive manoeuverings on the world stage.
Algae. Photo: © Donna Storz/Flickr
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